Lamar High School is usually known for its blue-and-gold Viking logo and its football prowess, but this year it has a new niche: graduates who are twins and triplets.
Of about 600 students in this year’s class, 19 are multiples — eight sets of twins and one set of triplets.
“For all of our kids, it is obviously a momentous time and a line of demarcation from their childhood going into adulthood, but for the twins, it is especially important,” Principal Andy Hagman said. “For many, it is going to be a point of separation in the coming months when they go off to college. It’s the beginning of their future apart, so I am sure it is very bittersweet for them.”
Several of the multiples confirmed that they are trying to prepare for their first extended separation from a very close sibling.
“Being a twin, you are born with a best friend,” said Jernia Ross, 17, who has a twin sister. “You grow up with her or him. You are together with them, and then after high school, when you go to different colleges or do different things, to me that is so sad.”
The multiples have shared an unusual chemistry on the campus of about 2,900 students.
“They can all relate to each other,” Hagman said. “It’s their own special club. It has been a unique experience.”
The Lamar community will miss its multiples, Hagman said, adding that getting to know one twin or triplet meant meeting an entire family.
Comfortable in the limelight
Some of Lamar’s multiples are accustomed to media attention.
In 2004, the Star-Telegram wrote a multiples story that included Jason and Jennifer Murray; Connor and Sydney January; and Tori, Jansen and Brett Russell when they were at Butler Elementary School. At the time, Butler had two sets of twins and two set of triplets.
“Most people heard about us through the paper,” said Jason Murray, now 18.
Several of the multiples also attended Shackleford Junior High, which is several blocks away.
The Murrays, Januarys and Russells are joined in graduation by twins Jernia and Jernayia Ross, Micah and Darah Jones, Alicia and Calisha Mayhugh, Andrew and Allyson Guinn, Diontez and Tae Champion, and Teresita and Mauricio Ortiz.
Lamar isn’t the only Arlington high school with multiples at this year’s commencement. Bowie and Sam Houston high schools each have five sets of twins. Arlington High has four, Martin has three, and Seguin has one, according to the school district.
On the surface, it appears that Lamar has so many multiples by happenstance, said Dr. G. Sealy Massingill, an associate professor of obstetrics-gynecology at the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine at the University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth.
“It’s like flipping a coin and having it come up heads 10 times in a row,” he said.
Massingill said three deliveries in every 100 are twins. Triplets or higher sets of multiples are delivered 11/2 times per 1,000 deliveries, he said. Generally, twin births have increased since the onset of advanced reproductive care, he said. And mothers are starting their families later in life, slightly increasing the chances for twins, he said.
A special bond
The multiples just get one another in ways other kids can’t.
“It’s cool to know that we can relate to people having the same issues as triplets or twins,” said Brett Russell, 18, a triplet.
The Ross twins have attended classes at Lamar for about three years. They said they like being part of an extended community of multiples.
“There are people who I can relate to about being a twin,” Jernia Ross said. “People who aren’t twins, they ask the same questions, which is quite annoying. Other twins know how we feel about those annoying questions. They can actually relate to us.”
“What’s your birthday? What’s your birthday?” explained Jernayia Ross. “We’re twins. I don’t understand how they don’t get that.”
Sometimes people ask who was born first, but the twins said a better question is “Who came out first?”
The two finish each other’s sentences and become a little sad when they describe how one will take a year to focus on color guard while the other will start classes at the University of Texas at Arlington.
“It will be the first time we are actually separated from each other for a long time,” Jernia Ross said.
But the twins catch themselves before becoming too sad.
“We love each other,” Jernia Ross said. “We will see each other on weekends. I will call every single day.”
Diane Smith, 817-390-7675