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Teachers at Elkhorn Valley are not just seeing double. They are also seeing triple and quadruple.
In preschool through 12th grade, the 395-student population has 12 sets of multiples--10 sets of twins, one set of triplets and one set of quadruplets.
That means 6.8 percent of the total student body consists of twins, triplets and quads. In fact, only five grade levels at Elkhorn Valley don’t have a set of multiples. And three sets of twins are in the first grade alone.
Paula Howard said she has been teaching for 17 years, but this year marks “a first” for the first grade teacher.
“Until this year, I have never had more than one set of twins in the classroom,” Howard said. “Now I have two sets. And there is another set of twins in the other first grade class.”
She teaches twin boys, Kohl and Davis Rutjens and Carson and Jason King. Howard said the Kings are fraternal twins, but the Rutjens’ twins are “very identical.”
“If they don’t have their hair cut short, I can’t tell them apart,” she said.
“Davis has a donut” is the helpful phrase she and other school staff members use to distinguish the Rutjens boys.
“Davis has a circular cowlick in front,” Howard said. “When his hair is cut, you can see it easier. When their hair is a little longer, I have to look for other differences. I noticed that Kohl has a tiny freckle on his upper lip. They even have similar personalities. I’ve had a difficult time telling them apart.”
However, she has no trouble distinguishing the King twins.
“They are easy to tell apart, but their personalities are different too,” Howard said.
Laura Parks, business and information technology teacher at Elkhorn Valley, said she is getting better at distinguishing most of the twins she teaches, but there are some she still has trouble with.
“The Eckert and Larsen twins, I can’t tell them apart unless they are in the seating chart,” she said.
In preschool, quadruplet boys Logan, Mason, Porter and Connor Negus, “look, talk and act a little different from each other,” according to their parents Lucas and Sabrina Negus. Three of the 5-year-olds are identical and one is fraternal. The boys said the best part of being a quadruplet is “having brothers to play with” (Porter); “having someone to go to school with” (Logan); “having someone to play with and sleep with at night” (Mason); and “having brothers to read books with” (Connor).
In first grade, Kohl and Davis Rutjens, the identical twin sons of David and Desiree Rutjens, are 7 years old, and have two more siblings, a sister Cameron, 9, and brother Andrew, 6. The fraternal twin sons of Ryan and Crystal King, Jason and Carson King are 6 years old and have two more brothers, Casey and Dylan. The final set of first grade twins are Keaton and Olivia Werner, 6-year-olds who are easily identifiable since one is a boy and one is a girl. They are the children of Marty and Lisa Werner and have two more brothers, Carter, 13, and Jarett, 10. Olivia and Keaton said they like being twins because they “always have a friend and someone to play with.”
Third graders Kamryn and Katelyn Kallhoff are fraternal twins. The 9-year-olds are the daughters of Mike and Cassey Kallhoff and have one brother Tristan, 11. The girls said their hair color is primarily what sets them apart. “Katelyn has dark hair and I have blonde hair,” Kamryn said. Katelyn said the best part of being a twin is “you always have someone.”
In fourth grade, there are two sets of fraternal twins, Allison and Owen Hahne and Ashlynn and Adam Dexter-Paustian. Both sets are one boy and one girl. Allison and Owen, 9, are the children of Darin and Carey Hahne, and they have a sister Rachal, 18, and Derek, 14. They said the best part of being a twin is “always having someone to play with.” Ten-year-olds Ashlynn and Adam are the children of Anne Dexter and Jeff Paustian, and they have a sister Aubrey, 12, and a brother Axton, 4. Ashlynn said she likes being a twin because they “stand up for each other,” and Adam said he likes it because they “always have each other.”
Fifth graders Isaac and Isaiah Eckert are the identical twin sons of Joe and Kylie Eckert. They have one sister, Haley, 18. The 11-year-olds know a couple ways to help people distinguish them. “I have a deeper voice than Isaac does,” Isaiah said. Issac said Isaiah “has a scar on his nose.” They like having a twin so they have someone to play with, and “You have someone you can be a jerk to and they get over it within 10 minutes,” Isaiah said.
In sixth grade, there is a set of fraternal triplets--Macy, Drew and Dawson Hansen, the children of Jason and Cori Hansen. They have one sister, Mariah, 14. The 11-year-olds said people rarely have trouble telling them apart since Macy is a girl, Dawson is the smaller boy and Drew is the bigger boy. They agreed that the best part of being a triplet is that they “stand up for each other and always stick together.”
Eighth graders Alisha and Alexis Larsen, 14, are the identical twin daughters of Jerad Larsen and Tiffany Pruitt. They have one younger brother, Kyle, 11. The girls are difficult to identify for most people, they said, but many use their height difference to tell them apart. Alexis said she is taller, but Alisha pointed out that she is older. They said one of the best parts of being a twin is “tricking people.”
The senior class has two sets of twins, boys Darren and Dillon Stewart, 18, and girls Karissa and Kirstyn Evans, 17. The boys are the sons of Todd and Julie Stewart and have one sister Elizabeth Hansen. When asked how people tell them apart, they both said, “I don’t know.” Their teacher Mrs. Parks said the boys “have completely different personalities.” “They just have to talk to you, and you know,” she said. Darren said “confusing people” is his favorite part of being a twin. Dillon said he likes being able to “wear each other’s cool clothes and shoes.” Karissa and Kirstyn are the daughters of Tanja Evans, and they have two brothers, Kendall, 21, and Brandon, 16. They said most people can identify them because Kirstyn wears glasses and Karissa does not. The shape of their face is slightly different as well. Both girls said the best part of being a twin is “sharing clothes.”