Something unique is happening at a tiny Central Oregon School. Madras Elementary currently has seven sets of twins.
“I had never even honestly seen but one set of twins when I was a child. And then after these twins were born, I’m seeing them everywhere,” said Susan Wommick, grandmother of twins Michael and Angel. “It’s like it’s like a bloom of twins.”
“That’s just insane to me,” said Viany Garcia, the mother of twins. “When they called me about it, I was like, there’s no way there are that many sets of twins.”
At Madras Elementary, a school of 345 students, you may just turn your head twice because the school will have you seeing double.
“Very uncommon, really,” said 5th-grade teacher John Lewis. “Through most of my teaching career, I’ve seen, and I’ve taught at school with over 1,400 kids before, and there was two sets of twins. There was only two sets.”
Just over 3% of childbirths are twins. At Madras Elementary, their percentage is over 4%. And the twins at Madras are all different types.
There are identical twins, which result from the fertilization of a single egg, with the fertilized egg then splitting into two.
There are fraternal twins, which result from the fertilization of two separate eggs during the same pregnancy. They share half of their genomes, just like any other siblings. Fraternal twins may not be of the same gender.
And then there are mirror twins. They have certain physical characteristics in common — these similarities are just reflected on opposite sides of their bodies. For example, one left-handed and the other right-handed.
“In kindergarten, in first grade, they were swapping classes constantly,” said Wommick. “One liked the other teacher better than the other. So we were constantly trying to figure out who is who. And then they got the trick of the teacher handing in the pencil and whoever grabbed it with which hand they can figure out who is.”
Mirror twins only occur when a single egg splits, and that split causes specific traits to develop.
If you think that is strange, those that spend a lot of time with twins say they even silently understand each other.
“They can communicate just looking at each other and I think you check your answer there without saying any words,” said Madras Elementary teacher Lauren Boyle.
“Sometimes, as I like to say, a little secret twin language sometimes,” said Lewis. “So, they can get things passed between each other that you’re not even aware of.”
In a school full of twins, Lewis is unique in his own right. No, he’s not a twin. But…
“My one half of my head is distinctly different than my other half,” said Lewis. “I’m genetically split across my body.
“My one thumb doesn’t necessarily have a hitchhiker, but this one does,” Lewis said, showing us that his left thumb can bend back more than his right when he extends it.
“Everyone notices I have a blue and a green eye and they wonder what’s going on and I’m all alone,”Lewis continued. “Apparently, I was supposed to be a twin, but I never broke apart. Or I absorbed my twin.”
The school separates the twins from classrooms, giving the kids a chance to grow as individuals.
It’s not the similarities, same birthday, or unique language that makes them special, but the love. the caring, and the bond.
I mean, as much as they do fight their best friends, so it’s great to see their bond and how different they are at the same time,” said Garcia.
Twins still have their own communication in their own connection,” said Wommick. “So I think it’s amazing, and I think that gives them a lifelong friend no matter what because they’re always going to be connected.