Double trouble?

Teachers at St. Michael the Archangel School are seeing double these days with an extraordinary number of twins and triplets in the school


by Kara Hansen 

LEAWOOD — Teachers at St. Michael the Archangel School here are seeing double — sometimes even triple.

No, they haven’t been sampling the Communion wine. Multiple sets of multiples abound at this parish school, where there are four sets of triplets and 12 sets of twins in grades kindergarten through eighth.

There are five sets of twins and one set of triplets in the third grade alone. “In 30 years of education, I’ve never seen this many sets of multiples in one school,” said Michael Cullinan, principal of St. Michael the Archangel School.

Fortunately, many of the kids are fraternal twins or triplets, making it easier for the staff to tell them apart.

On further acquaintance, said Cullinan, it’s not hard at all to tell one from another.

“Once you get to know them,” he said, “they each have such distinct personalities. It makes them stand out.”

And if they’ve had little luck trying to fool their teachers and classmates, some have had better luck combining forces with their siblings on what is being taught in the classroom.

Madeline Dercher, a twin, finds learning easier with an extra set of eyes and ears in the classroom.

“If one of us didn’t understand something at school,” she explained, “the other one can help with what we don’t know.”

Twin Mitchell Neunuebel agreed. “It’s easier to get work done because you can help each other,” he said.

Although in the same grade, most of the siblings are assigned to different classes. So even though they cover the same general curriculum, they are exposed to different teaching styles and assignments.

“It’s been really interesting to see how teachers do things differently, even covering the same topic,” said Jolie Pierce, mother to twins Joseph and Isabella.

Pierce said having so many multiples at one school means parents like her enjoy a ready-made network of folks who understand the unique challenges of raising a set of multiples.

“It’s really nice to have that built-in support and be able to compare stories,” she said.

At the end of the day, the kids will tell you that the best part of being a twin or triplet is having someone to play with, even after school is over and friends have gone home.

“It’s really fun because you have someone to play with all the time. You’re never lonely,” said Madeline Dercher.

But having built-in playmate has its drawbacks.

“It’s fun, but it’s frustrating sometimes,” explained Mitchell Neunuebel, “because you always have to be with that person.”

 

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