Take two: 11 sets of twins prepare to graduate from Lewiston High School

Nov. 26—There's not a twin club at Lewiston High School, but there could be.

If there was, it would start with 22 members as the Lewiston High School graduating class of 2024 has 11 sets of twins. Those twins include Elise and Jordis Aiken; Scout and Avery Alford; Lynsie and Olivia Bren; Kaitlyn and Marissa Johnson; Jonah and Noah Jorgens; Hayden and Emily Kingsbury; Joslyn and Landon LeFavour; Stanley and John Markwell; Allison and Myah Olson; Kodiac and Keegan Patterson; and Wiley and RJ Wagner. The Lewiston Tribune contacted the students through the Lewiston School District and not all responded for interviews.

The Tribune ran a story about the large number of twins in Lewiston kindergarten classes in the Nov. 20, 2011, edition. At that time there were 13 sets of twins, but two sets have moved away from the area.

Those kindergartners are now seniors and have spent their learning years in Lewiston schools dealing with teacher mix-ups, sharing birthdays and clothes, and reaching milestones together. While the twins don't all hang out in the same social circles, most know each other from classes or playing sports.

Jordis and Elise Aiken were the only twins at their elementary school, but that changed when they hit middle school.

"So that's when we realized how many twins there actually were," Elise said.

Elise and Jordis went to OrchardsElementary School and Sacajawea Middle School. After high school, the two will take separate paths. Elise is heading to Lewis-Clark State College and Jordis is going to the University of Idaho. Elise wants to get her associate degree as a medical assistant and Jordis wants to be a physical therapist assistant.

The Bren twins, Lynsie and Olivia, spent their elementary years at Camelot Elementary, then went to Sacajawea Middle School. Both want to go to Lewis-Clark State College and major in nursing to eventually become labor and delivery nurses. Afterward they want to build their houses next to each other and also own a wedding venue together.

Allison and Myah Olson also attended Camelot Elementary and Sacajawea Middle School. After graduation, Myah is staying in Lewiston, but Allison hopes to go to Carroll College in Helena, Mont., for pre-med and eventually become a cardiovascular surgeon.

Wiley and RJ Wagner attended All Saints Catholic School until they went to Sacajawea Middle School. After their time at LHS, Wiley wants to go to the University of Idaho for agriculture systems and management to maybe take over the family farm. RJ is looking at going to Columbia Basin College in Pasco, Wash., to play golf and is interested in some kind of business career.

Kaitlyn and Marissa Johnson also went to All Saints Catholic School and then attended Jenifer Middle School. After graduation they will keep going to the same school with both heading to the University of Idaho. Marissa is thinking of doing interior design and Kaitlyn is considering a career in the medical field.

Noah and Jonah Jorgens went to elementary school at Webster and then Jenifer Middle School. The two are taking separate paths after graduation — Jonah is getting his commercial driver's license and Noah is going to take a gap year.

Identical vs. fraternal

The most common types of twins are identical and fraternal. Identical twins are conceived from one fertilized egg. They are born with the same gender and have the same genetic characteristics shown in areas like eye and hair color, according to healthline.com. The Johnson twins, Marissa and Kaitlyn, and the Bren twins, Olivia and Lynsie, are identical.

Fraternal twins are when two separate eggs are fertilized. This means fraternal twins can be born with different genders and don't look the same because they share the same amount of chromosomes as regular siblings, according to healthline.com. The Olson twins, Myah and Allison; Wagner twins, Wiley and RJ; and Aiken twins, Elise and Jordis, are all fraternal.

Half-identical twins explain why some fraternal twins look so similar. It can happen when an egg splits into two halves and is fertilized by two separate sperm. They can be the same or different genders and look similar but are not identical, according to healthline.com. The Jorgens twins are half-identical.

"We have never looked anything alike," Elise said about her sister, Jordis. "Unless you didn't know us, we've never really been mixed up."

People sometimes don't even know they have a twin.

"Even when Myah and I are together they still don't think we're twins," Allison said.

Even for identical twins, unless the two are together people don't always realize there's a double.

"I've had some teachers where they didn't even know we were twins until we walked into the room at the same time and they're like, 'Wait, you have a twin,'" Lynsie said.

Mix it up

The mix-up issues mostly concern the identical twins. Close friends and family can tell the siblings apart, but staff at the schools they went to sometimes had a harder time.

The twins didn't always help with the situation. The Bren twins switched places — twice.

Once in third grade they changed outfits during recess with people standing around them as a barrier. That attempt didn't work because people tattled before they got to class.

The second attempt was a different story.

In fifth grade, Olivia's teacher, Jennie Myers, was in on the prank with the twins and helped them switch on Lynsie's teacher, Kylee Wicks. They even wore the same clothes and hairstyle to help their plan. The teacher had no idea until, again, someone told her.

Before their plans were foiled the two went to each other's classes. Olivia got the short end of the deal and had to do a project with Lynsie's partner. It was a video project and Lynsie had already told her partner not to use some kind of "weird" filter on the video.

"But then Olivia got in that class and she's nicer than I am, " Lynsie said.

"I didn't know," Olivia said about the objections to the filter. "I'm nicer than Lynsie so ..."

"So she let him do it for the project," Lynsie finished.

Lynsie got the sweeter deal. Olivia's class was watching a movie with popcorn, so she got to enjoy that while Olivia worked on her sister's project.

The Jorgens twins also had a switch day. In elementary school the two brothers switched classes by swapping hoodies. The two had different hours of PE and music so one got to go to music twice, which was Noah, and Jonah got to go to PE twice.

"They totally thought we were each other for a little bit and then ..." Noah said.

"One of our friends ratted us out," Jonah continued. "That was the only reason we got caught."

Twinning

Whether the twins are fraternal or identical, all have shared experiences of being dressed the same, or "twinning," especially when they were younger. The twinning also established a color code for many of the twins and helped tell them apart when they were babies as the outfits would be the same but in different colors.

For the Bren twins, Lynsie's color was pink and Olivia's color was purple. For the Wagner twins, Wiley was red and RJ was blue. The Jorgens used the same colors, Noah's color was red and Jonah was blue, which also happens to be their favorite colors.

For all the twins, the twining stopped when they got older and most have come up with a different clothing style than their sibling. However, sometimes the siblings still end up wearing the same clothes by accident.

"It happens a lot because with going to so many different 4-H events we get a lot of T-shirts from there so we're bound to end up twinning now and then," Elise said.

Sharing is caring

Like all siblings, the twins have to learn to share, such as their toys and rooms, but unlike other siblings, twins share more than most because they have the same birthday.

Some of the twins' birthday traditions include having different meals and desserts, like the Jorgens. Others, like the Wagner twins, share their birthday party by inviting friends over and having the same cake.

The type of cake, usually from Dairy Queen, caused debate between the twins. RJ thought they would get a blended cake with two different flavors, each choosing their favorite, and Wiley insisted they get a cake with one favorite flavor.

Then RJ said his favorite cake was chocolate.

And Wiley?

"Chocolate," he said with a laugh, ending the cake debate.

The Johnson twins also have a tradition with their birthday cakes.

"I was born first, so I always got my cake first and I guess that affected Marissa a lot so ..." Kaitlyn said.

"Emotionally," Marissa interrupted.

"Yes, so one of our birthdays she freaked out, like five years ago, so now we have to do hers first for the rest of our lives," Kaitlyn said.

Other than birthdays, clothing is the most common item shared, or stolen, depending on your perspective.

"He always wears — he's wearing my hoodie right now. And my shorts," Noah said about Jonah when asked if they end up sharing or stealing clothes.

Wiley has the same issue with his brother. The Johnson twins have the same closet, which means they'll wear each other's clothes, and the Bren twins also share clothes. The Aiken twins have a system in place to avoid clothing mix-ups — they do their laundry on different days. The Jorgens' method is to write N and J on their belongings, including clothes or themselves.

"One time we had to write N and J on our foreheads (for) visiting cousins because they couldn't tell us apart," Noah said.

Schoolwork

One of the benefits of having a twin is a built-in study buddy for schoolwork.

Some of the twins have different subjects that they are good in, like the Wagner twins — Wiley is good at history and English and RJ is better at math and writing. For the Olson twins, Myah is the creative type while Allison is more logistical. With the Aikens twins, Elise is better at algebra and science and Jordis is better at geometry and English.

"It's nice because we have opposite subjects that we're both really good at so we can help each other with it," Elise said. "When we're in the same class it's always easy to do partner work, especially if it's a project you have to work on outside of school."

Having a twin

Some of the twins have other siblings: The Bren twins have an older brother; the Johnson twins have an older and younger brother; and the Jorgens twins have an older brother and younger sister. And while some of the twins have other siblings, Noah said his relationship with his brother Jonah is different than with his other siblings.

The Wagners feel more like regular brothers than a twin. RJ said that when he thinks about hanging out with his brother, Wiley, it's more like, "I gotta go hang out with my brother" not necessarily his twin.

For the Bren twins it's more weird for them not to be together. They have never been apart for more than 24 hours.

"You never have to walk into school by yourself. She's just always there, so I never have to worry about stuff like that," Lynsie said. "Whenever she'd be sick, though, I would be like, 'Oh crap, I have to go to school by myself.'"

"We basically do everything together," Olivia said.

The twins do admit there are some downsides to having a twin, being the same age or sharing the same space can lead to conflicts, it's frustrating to get mixed up with the other and sometimes one wants to hang out and the other doesn't.

Even with those disadvantages, most highlighted the good aspects of having a twin. When they were younger they all had someone to play with. As they get older it's more about having someone to talk to. RJ and Wiley said it's easier to talk with a twin who is the same age and a family member than even a parent or a friend — a common sentiment among the twins.

"You always have someone you can relate to," Jordis said. "With us being the same age, it's not like we're five years apart, so we have a lot of similar issues a lot of the time and just a lot of things in common."

Brewster may be contacted at kbrewster@lmtribune.com or at (208) 848-2297.