BEAUFORT, SC — When Joseph S. Shanklin Elementary principal Celestine LaVan began the school year in August, she couldn't quite believe her acute case of double vision.
Eleven sets of twins were enrolled in her school of 399 students.
"This just makes things fun and interesting, but doesn't really present a challenge," she said. "It's just something else that's really unique about Shanklin."
With six sets of the twins being new to the Beaufort school this year, and five of them in pre-kindergarten, LaVan said the teachers all joke that there must have been something in the water.
The pairs range in grade from pre-kindergarten to fourth grade, and LaVan said four sets of the twins are identical.
Twins have become much more common in recent years, according to research, with the chances of having them about two to three in every 100 births. However, identical twins are still quite rare -- only one in every 285.
Despite the long looks and short pauses faculty often take before attempting to call a twin by name, mix-ups still occur. But that doesn't stop the twins from letting people know who's who.
"They normally correct the people," said Jennifer Moultrie, mother of twins Madison and McKenzie Darby, "because someone always calls them the wrong names."
Madison and McKenzie are in pre-kindergarten and usually dress alike, Moultrie said, although on this day, Madison wore a pink jacket and black-sequined shoes, while McKenzie wore a navy jacket and had pink sequins on her shoes.
As soon as the two sisters saw each other -- they are in separate but adjacent classes -- they immediately ran up to each other for a big hug.
"I love being a twin with my sister," Madison said.
The same was true with Hunter and Dakota Spears, brothers in different pre-kindergarten classes. Every time they separate into their classes, Hunter said, they wave good-bye until their next break.
All the twins are in separate classes except for third-graders Ashton and Logan Morgan, who sit beside each other throughout the day. Ashton always wears something green, and Logan dons something blue -- a method they said their mother came up with at birth to keep the two straight.
Their teacher, Taylor Downs, said she appreciates the hint, but she would be able to tell them apart by their personalities. Logan is a little more outgoing, and Ashton is a quiet thinker, Downs said.
"At first I was really nervous about having them in the same class and that I wouldn't be able to keep them straight, but now I just love it," she said. "It is uncanny how they get along."
The two said their friends often want them to switch their colored jackets and pull pranks on others, but they haven't yet -- maybe when they're a little older.
"People ask us why they put so many twins in Shanklin," Ashton said.
"But I don't think it's not normal; we're used to twins," Logan completed the thought.
LaVan said it has been interesting to watch the twins in the school grow and see how they are becoming their own independent individuals.
But during lunch breaks, recesses or snack times, you don't see one twin without the other.
"They just automatically gravitate toward each other," LaVan said. "They are always so happy to see their other half."