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Seeing Double

Teachers and students at an elementary school in Lake Charles, La., have been seeing double this school year.

A.A. Nelson Elementary School, part of the 33,000-student Calcasieu Parish school system, now boasts a whopping 17 sets of twins among its 600 students.

The unusually large number of twins prompted administrators to check with the Guinness Book of World Records to see if the twins had made history.

However, said Jacqueline Smith, the assistant principal, they were quickly disappointed. The record number of twins simultaneously attending an elementary school stands at 29.

Still, that doesn't make the task of teaching 17 pairs of children any easier. "It can be difficult to tell them apart, but we have a few innovative parents," she said.

Bryce and Beau Jordan, for example, are identical kindergartners. Beau wears a safety pin on the back of his shirt so his teacher doesn't confuse him with his brother. "His mother used it at home to help her tell them apart, and it just carried over into school," Ms. Smith said.

But parents aren't alone in the quest to name that twin. Many staff members, such as 4th grade teacher Raissa Cecchini, have enlisted their own simple aids to tell their students apart. The physical education teacher can identify Jordan and Jonathan Weeks by a show of hands. "One throws left-handed, and one throws right-handed," she said.

The students themselves often help their peers and teachers by noting small physical differences. Madison Miller has a distinctive line of freckles dotting her face, while her twin, Mallory, doesn't have as many. Kaylee Burcham has a bigger gap between her teeth than her twin, Caitlyn, does.

The decision to place twins in the same class or to separate them is left to the parents.

"It's been fun. Double the fun, not double the trouble," Ms. Smith said. "They do get a lot of attention sometimes, but for the most part it's been a blessing."

—Marianne Hurst

Vol. 20, Issue 37, Page 3

Published in Print: May 23, 2001, as Take Note

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