Twice the tassels, double the diplomas
There's still debate in the scientific community as to what causes identical twins. However, one thing's certain: a lot of them are graduating from Lee County High School this year.
Of the 368 seniors who will graduate Thursday, 12 are twins, and four of the six pairs are identical, which is generally the least common type of twin pairing.
The six sets of twins are more than guidance counselor Sherry Andrews said she's ever heard of in a single class. But that many could soon be commonplace: Twin births have skyrocketed in the past several decades.
Although this class's incidence of twins is about 30 percent higher than the average twin birth rate in the U.S. in 1995, when much of the senior class was born, Andrews and others might continue seeing large numbers of twins much more frequently in the future. While the amount of twins in this current class is high compared to the year when they were born (and double what it was in the 70s, when many of their parents were born), it's actually lower than the twin birth rate in 2009, when much of this year's Pre-K class was born.
None of the twins had any theories as to why there are so many in this one class; they're more focused on their post-grad plans, in which five of the six pairs are going to college with each other. Without intending to do so, they're also doubling up on schools.
Meredith and Rebecca Love will room together at Appalachian State University, and on the quad they might run into Allegra and Max Hogan, who aren't rooming together because they're different genders but made sure they'd at least be in the same dorm.
Kevin and Kyle Cheek will room together at UNC-Pembroke. Nyeisha and Tyeisha Donaldson haven't figured out their post-grad plans yet, but they said they plan to stick together and are leaning strongly toward UNC-P as well.
Daniel and David Jordan will live together at home while at Central Carolina Community College. That leaves Alex and Taylor Ridall as the odd women out, with Alex off to Ole Miss in the fall and Taylor headed to East Carolina University.
Alex couldn't comment — she was at orientation — but Taylor said she thinks they weren't as intent on sticking together because they're fraternal twins. Identical twins, she said, sometimes seem to have even stronger bonds. And although she and her sister tend to fight like cats and dogs when they're together, Taylor said, she's not looking forward to the separation.
"It's going to be rough being 14 hours away," she said. "I've never been that far from her before. ... We've never been apart more than a week, either."
The other pair of fraternals, Max and Allegra, were originally headed to opposite ends of the state but wound up together. One wanted to go to UNC-Wilmington and the other wanted to attend App State. They talked about it and decided they'd go to Appalachian, a compromise they said wasn't too difficult.
"When we were really little, my mom would ask Max where he wanted to go," Allegra said. "And he would say, 'Wherever Allegra goes.'"
The four identical pairs, though, said they didn't even need to have that kind of discussion.
The Loves said they always just assumed they'd go to school together, and as for the Cheeks, Kevin said he and Kyle are so alike that it was a no-brainer. They have the same taste in music and clothes and even wear matching shoes and glasses. Having matching majors — biology — at the same school just makes sense because they share so much else.
"Sometimes we buy different shirts," Kevin said with a laugh.
All the twins said their favorite part of having a twin was having someone to talk to about anything, a built-in best friend. The worst part? Sibling rivalry is exaggerated many times over. The identicals have the added ability to impersonate one another, although they all said they don't do it very often. Sometimes they've gone to each others' classes, and Meredith and Rebecca laughed about the time they switched places to play a trick on a boyfriend. But sometimes the similarities can backfire.
"We sound alike," Tyeisha — or was it Nyeisha? — said. "So we'll be driving and she'll say something, and my mom will turn around and yell at me instead."
But there are ways to tell them apart. One of the Donaldsons has a mole. The Loves have necklaces with their initials. Kevin Cheek is the talkative one; Kyle is quieter. And although they look different now, Taylor said she and Alex looked the same when they were little, so their mom painted their toenails different colors to tell who was who.
However, Allegra and Max sometimes get mistaken for each another on the phone — Allegra said she doesn't know who should be more insulted by that — and Daniel and David might take the cake as far as recognition problems are concerned.
"Lots of times, our sister can't even tell us apart."
* Six pairs of twins are graduating from Lee County High School: Kevin and Kyle Cheek, Nyeisha and Tyeisha Donaldson, Allegra and Max Hogan, Daniel and David Jordan, Meredith and Rebecca Love, and Alex and Taylor Ridall.
Fun fact — The rate of twins in the school's class of 2013 is about 30 percent greater than the national average in the year most of the senior class was born.