Originally created 02/25/02

42 twins have school seeing double



Derrick and Donovan Butcher were worried they wouldn't fit in at Jamestown Elementary School.

The identical twins, now 8 years old, recently moved to Augusta from Ohio and were afraid their classmates would stare at them, maybe even make fun of them.

"I was nervous," Derrick said.

Their anxiety quickly subsided when they met Jamestown's other twins. School administrators introduced the new twins to the others.

"We see double around here all the time," said Carolyn Fuller, the school's assistant principal. "I told them, 'It's really not that unusual."'

As the schools' twins came to the front office to greet the Butchers, officials were astounded to learn they had 21 sets of twins among the 800 pupils attending the south Augusta school.

"I knew we had several sets of twins, but 21 - I've never heard of so many twins attending one school," Principal Marion Furr said. "It's like a twin convention around here."

According to statistics in Twins magazine, 114,307 sets of twins were born in the United States in 1999.

The majority of Jamestown's twins are identical - only eight sets are fraternal.

Most of the identical pairs like having a double, but sometimes it's confusing for school officials.

"We have to come up with ways to tell them apart," Ms. Fuller said.

Whitney and Brittany Fye wear different hair bows of different colors.

Mark Wheeler has a scar on his forehead that allows people to distinguish him from his brother, Michael.

In that respect, fraternal twins have it much easier.

Unlike their identical younger sisters, Shamyra and Shamera Fye have their own look, yet they say they have a bond. The elder sisters say they know what's going on with each other and they share some personality traits.

The special relationship between twins causes parents to struggle with whether to place them in different classrooms when they begin school. While many schools recommend separation, Dr. Furr said he allows the parents to make that decision.

"Some parents ask that we separate the kids, allowing them to make their own friends and become an individual. Others want them to be in the same class," Dr. Furr said.

Reach Ashlee Griggs at (706) 823-3552 or ashlee.griggs@augustachronicle.com.