- Associated Press - Saturday, May 2, 2015

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - They’ve been walking the halls of George Washington High School for nearly four years, but it wasn’t until last Monday that 12 brothers and sisters realized they were part of a unique group of students.

“We have six sets of fraternal twins graduating this year,” said Trish Legg, a school counseling clerk who called the group of teenagers together for a photoshoot. “That’s never happened before.”

While waiting for their pictures to be taken, some of the students seemed less than enthused that their morning routine had been interrupted. One girl was running late and had yet to arrive to school while one insisted she had an Advanced Placement class to get to. Another said he was late for work.

Despite that, the twins came alive in the company of their peers.

“We had no idea there were this many,” Kristen and Alyssa Ranson said together.

Whether because no two look exactly alike or because none broadcast that they are a twin, the familial ties of the students, until a week ago, was mostly known only to inner circles of friends.

“Growing up, our teachers didn’t even know until maybe the second semester,” said Virginia McGhee as she stood next to her sister Perry. Virginia stands a few inches taller than Perry and the two sisters part their hair on opposite sides. Without knowing they are twins, they could pass for older and younger sisters.

While the sets of twins interacted for about 20 minutes last Monday, there were no matching outfits or synchronization of any kind.

“We’re complete opposites,” most said, laughing, when asked to describe their relationship with their twin.

“We have really different interests,” Perry said. “Just because we’re twins doesn’t mean we’re the spitting image of each other.”

While the George Washington community has known there were several twins attending the school, it wasn’t Legg, who helps organize graduation, noticed the brothers and sisters were graduating together that all the pieces came together.

Principal George Aulenbacher said he was unaware there were six sets of twins in the graduating class until Legg told him.

“Usually, there’s one, maybe two sets,” he said. “But, having six is really unique.”

So unique is the group of students that Aulenbacher plans on making them a part of his graduation speech.

“They’re good kids,” he said.

When they graduate in May, most plan to go on to college, though that doesn’t mean they’ll be going together.

Virginia and Perry McGhee will attend Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Va., and Gustavus Adolphus in St. Peter, Minn., respectively.

Both said they’ve enjoyed going to school together for the first 17 years of their lives, but different interests are pulling them in separate directions. Virginia will study chemistry while Perry will go to school for athletic training and physical therapy.

“We looked at schools that had programs we liked,” Virginia said. “They just happened to be far apart.”

While each twin said they pride themselves on their individuality, those who will be attending different schools said they’ll miss their siblings when they leave for college later this year.

“Going away will be hard at first, but I think I’ll miss her after the first week,” Kristen said.

“Aw, that’s sweet,” said her sister Alyssa.

In the fall, the two sisters will attend universities on different continents. Kristen will go to West Virginia University while Alyssa will go to the University of Chester in England.

Others will stay closer to home.

Luke and Landon Hoffman said they plan on working as a welder and mechanic after finishing high school.

Evan and Julian Spradling will attend in-state universities. Evan will study information and technology systems at BridgeValley Community and Technical College while his sister Julian will go to Fairmont State. She currently is undeclared.

“It’ll be very different being apart,” Juliana said. “The longest we’ve been away was maybe two or three days.”

While they’ve all been close with their brother or sister, each said moving on after high school doesn’t mean they’ll lose touch with their twin.

“We’ll stay in touch,” Juliana said. “It’ll be good for us.”

The 12 students and their fellow seniors are set to graduate on May 20.

___

Information from: Charleston Daily Mail, https://www.charlestondailymail.com

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