It's double the fun at this elementary school

Sunday, December 21st 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

TAHLEQUAH - The folks around Cherokee Elementary School are seeing double these days and it's not because they're in some altered state of consciousness.

The school has 11 sets of twins enrolled this year.

To put that in mathematical terms, the square root of the school's entire population -- 490 students -- are twins.

That is, the 22 twins at Cherokee comprise 1/22 of the school's total enrollment.

What does this mean?

Absolutely nothing, except that a higher-than-usual number of the kids at the school look a lot like another kid the same age.

"I think we do have an unusual number of twins this year," said Cherokee kindergarten teacher Teensie Eckert. "There are three sets in kindergarten alone."

The kindergarten twins, who would've been born in 1997 or 1998, are part of a national trend.

According to the National Vital Statistics Reports, the number of twin deliveries rose 6 percent in 1997 and 1998. That was the largest rise in several decades.

Why did this happen?

It could be women waiting until their 30s to have children, or it could be fertility drugs, or it could be a theory proposed by Cherokee kindergarten teacher Sharon Sutton: "There must've been something in the water that year."

According to Eckert and Sutton, twins used to be kept in the same classes in school, but now, they're often separated in elementary school. Still, that doesn't prevent them from keeping up with what the other twin is doing.

"If one twin goes home early because he or she is sick, the other one wants to go home early, too," said Sutton. "They'll get those ghost symptoms all of the sudden."

But the two teachers said the twins in their classes don't present too many difficulties, especially since they're all of the fraternal variety.

"None of our twins are identical, so they can't switch off," said Eckert. "And their personalities are nothing alike."

That sometimes applies to the identical twins, too.

Nine-year-old identical twins Amy and April Donnelly say they definitely have different personalities, they just can't agree on who has what personality traits.

When asked who the loud one of the couple is, they both pointed at each other.

When asked who the quiet one was, they both pointed at themselves.

"We've never been in the same class," one twin said. "I think they do that on purpose, so they don't get confused."

Her sister added, "Our family always says, 'Why don't you try trading places for a day?' but we never have, because our friends could tell us apart."

Wednesday, all the Cherokee Elementary twins that were available came down to the cafeteria to get their photo taken. As Alicia and Hollie Girdner played a clapping game to the chant, "Double this, double that," Jessica and Kimberly Easky talked about their twin-switching experience, which didn't go over too well.

"Whenever we were in kindergarten, we tried switching," said Kimberly, as both she and her sister pointed at the only noticeable difference between the two, a little mole on Kimberly's forehead. "It didn't work; they saw this."