Double the fun: 11 sets of twins fill Lee Hunter

Sunday, April 15, 2012
Lee Hunter Elementary twins point to their siblings on the playground. This school year the Sikeston R-6 school has 11 sets of twins in its first through fourth grades. Pictured are front row, from left: MyKyla Turner, MaKayla Turner, Seth Coatney, Tara Coatney, Jackson Kuykendall and Hudson Kuykendall; second row: Miranda Witt, Megan Witt, Emma Drury, Sam Drury, Tyron Owens and Tyler Owens; and back row: Naudia Lazcano, Sierra Lazcano, Seth Steelman, Ben Steelman, Cleo Taylor, Leo Taylor, Hunter Rudisill and Kaitlyn Rudisill. (Leonna Heuring ~ Standard-Democrat)

SIKESTON -- This school year 11 sets of twins in first through fourth grades at Lee Hunter Elementary in Sikeston have teachers and students frequently seeing double.

Sharon Turner, secretary for Lee Hunter, said she noticed the large number of twins recently when she was working on enrollment.

"Every time I turned around, there was another set of twins," Turner said. "... In a given year, we might have one or two sets in the entire school but not 11. It's unbelievable we had that many."

Lee Hunter has one set of twins in first grade, two sets in second grade, two sets in third grade and six sets in fourth grade.

Fourth grade teacher Debbie Bard admitted she, too, was surprised by all of the sets of twins this school year.

"It's unusual to have one set of twins in a class, and to have six sets (in the fourth grade alone) is really unusual," Bard said.

By comparison, the other two elementary schools in the R-6 district have a combined total of eight of sets twins -- seven sets at Matthews Elementary and one set at Southeast Elementary, according to school officials.

The Guinness World Record for the most twins in the same academic year at one school is 13 pairs, according to the official website of Guinness World Records. The record, which was set in 2010, belongs to Pomperaug High School in Connecticut where there were 13 pairs of twins who were all part of the same senior graduating class in the academic year of 2009-2010.

Lee Hunter second graders Tyler Owens and Tyron Owens, who are identical twins, said they like being twins because they get to do the same things.

"They play together and fight like normal siblings, but they're best friends," said the twins' mother, Charmaine Owens of Sikeston. Owens also said when one of her sons recently underwent surgery, the other experienced pangs of sympathy.

"They're good friends and fight, but they can't play without each other," the boys' mother said.

Owens said she prefers her sons be in different classes because they're likely to behave better if they're separated.

At Lee Hunter, parents may specify if they want their twins in separate classes.

Elizabeth Martin, head principal at Lee Hunter Elementary who is also the mother of college-aged boy and girl twins, said she preferred to keep her twins in the same classes throughout their school career.

"If one would forget a textbook, the other would have it. Or if one couldn't remember an assignment, then the other one would," Martin said.

It's comforting for the children to have each other and always be there for each other, she said.

"My twins played together all the time," Martin said.

Lee Hunter fourth grade twins Sam Drury and Emma Drury like the fact they're in the same class.

"We've always been in the same class since preschool," Emma said.

And the siblings prefer it that way, they said.

"We can help each other with our homework," Sam said.

Miranda and Megan Witt, also fourth grade twins at Lee Hunter, agreed it's fun to be twins.

"You always have someone to be with," Miranda said.

"And to help you with your homework," Megan added.

The girls said until their school officials brought it to their attention, they didn't even realize there were so many of their school mates who were twins -- or that some of their own classmates were twins.

On this particular day, the sisters didn't miss a beat either, often finishing each other's sentences and speaking in unison.

"People always say we look alike," Miranda said. "But we're fraternal. We don't even look alike."

Her twin, Megan, agreed.

"She's girly, and I'm not," said Megan, who -- with her hair pulled back in a pony tail -- was wearing a soccer jersey.

To which Miranda, wearing a pink V-neck T-shirt tied on the side and denim capri pants, replied: "I'm not that girly."

Miranda is the eldest of the twins -- by 26 minutes. When asked if it bothered her that she was younger twin, Megan replied: "No. Because I'm stronger."

Megan disagreed.

Martin noted it's important to treat twins as individuals.

"They're not the same people," the Lee Hunter principal and mother of twins said. "They have different personalities."

Fourth grade teacher Ali Standridge said she's definitely noticed twins have different -- and often opposite -- personalities.

"Out on the playground, there are sibling squabbles (between twins), but they also like to take care of each other," Standridge said.

In her class alone, Standridge has one set of twins and three half-sets of twins for a total of five twins this school year.

The teacher added: "We love twins."

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