MESA — Twin individuals make up about two percent of the general population, according to the Twins Foundation. Students at Christ the King Catholic School defied those birth odds more than three times over with twins accounting for 7.8 percent of its student body during the 2012-13 school year.
Among the eight sets of twins, two were in pre-kindergarten and two graduated from eighth-grade in May. Three of the twins were brothers and three were sisters leaving the two sets in the middle according to age a brother/sister duo.
Christ the King staff members discovered further matching when they realized three of them — representing each gender grouping — have birthdays in January. Most of the older twins will say they’re about a minute apart. Jennifer Wirth, however, got an 18-minute head start over LeeAnne on life outside the womb.
Most classmates and passersby want to know who is older. For the Wirth girls, the common question goes broader to inquiring about other family relationships.
“Are you a Wirth?” is what LeeAnne said she hears most.
There are six Wirth children with all of them spending some time at Christ the King. The identical twins are the youngest in the pack.
Jennifer added “How tall are you?” to the list of frequently asked questions. Their height often has people mistaking them for someone older.
They both play basketball, something sixth-grade twins Grant and Adam Boyer also enjoy. Grant said it’s nice being on the same team.
He also knows that being a twin can be tough when they fight. Both eighth-grade twins agreed.
“You fight more because you’re with each other a lot,” said Jonathan Wozny, whose brother Alexander happened to be home sick that day.
Jennifer Wirth summed up life as a twin this way: “You have someone to do something with, but you have someone to fight with too.”
The eighth-graders found perks to being a twin student. They can partner up for assignments and not have to travel to another person’s house. They also have built in tutors. Teachers have a slight disadvantage, however.
“It’s just hard. The differences are so slight,” Janet Brown said of the eighth-grade twins.
The differences come down to a freckle between the Wirth girls. Jennifer has one on her right side. LeeAnne wore a knee brace for awhile, which helped distinguish the two and Alexander Wozny injured his ankle.
“I’m very careful about where I place them in seats,” Brown said.
Classmates apparently know enough about their personalities to tell the boys apart. Brown said the class overwhelmingly chose Alexander Wozny to do the May Crowning. The Woznys themselves, who shared winner and runner-up titles in the geography bee the last two years, think they’re nothing alike.
Both sets of twins managed to fool their fourth-grade teacher years ago, however. Mary Ellen Thatcher still vividly recalls the day that LeeAnne and Jennifer Wirth switched shoes and personalities for a day.
“Alexander and Jonathan went an extra step by going in the coat closet as one student and out as another student, totally confusing the teacher. Then during math class one of the boys would come up for assistance and not a minute later the other boy — I thought — would come up with another question,” Thatcher said.
The kindergarten twins are easier for school staff to distinguish because they tend to wear different color uniform shirts. The pre-kindergarten twins have very different personalities.
Fifth-graders Natalie and Keaton Edwards both enjoy sports, but have vastly different interests outside of that.
“I like fishing and hunting. She likes acting,” Keaton said.
His sister served as narrator in the school’s production of “Aladdin Jr.” last fall and was an orphan in “Annie Jr.” last year.
The siblings said it’s hard to share a birthday, but are tuned in to each other’s feelings. Sometimes the Wirth girls have similar thoughts and even say them at the same time.
The Wirth and Wozny twins will have more chances to think alike and fool their teachers. All four start as freshmen at Seton Catholic Preparatory High School in Chandler Aug. 14.
- Eight sets across the grades at Christ the King Catholic School in Mesa. Student population: 205. Twins: 7.8 percent
- In 2011, St. Agnes Catholic School in Fort Wright, Cinn. Twins: 8 percent
- 15 sets across the grades at Castle Heights Elementary in Lebanon, TN. Student population: 611. Twins: 4.9 percent
- 17 sets in senior class at Carmel High School in Indianapolis. Contender to beat Guinness World Record.
- 24 sets in fifth grade at Highcrest Middle School in Wilmette, Ill. Twins: 10.2 percent