November 25, 1991 12:00 PM

ON THE FIRST DAY OF KINDERGARTEN at St. Cecilia School in Beaverton, Oreg., teacher Michelle McGanty, 22, thought she was seeing double. Or was it quadruple? How about octuple?

Seated before her—along with 16 other children in her morning class—were Peter and Paul Nistler, 5, who are identical twins. In her afternoon class, along with 11 other students, were Madeline and Meghan Gregg, 5, who are also identical. And Christopher and Michael McKay, 5, yep, also identical. Luckily, although there is a third set of twins in the afternoon class, they aren’t identical: Theresa Orazio, 6, has brown eyes; her sister Alexandra’s are blue.

Adding to the confusion, all the children in the Catholic school wear a uniform, making identification a daily challenge. For a while McGanty tried heart-shaped name tags hung around her pupils’ necks with yarn, but decided they were hazardous when the children played. Assigned seats were little help, McGanty explains, because “in kindergarten the kids don’t sit in the same chair every day—they’re all over the place. And little kids always seem to have their backs turned to you, so you never know which one’s which.”

McGanty, who sometimes relies on sock color to distinguish Peter from Paul, has lately gotten a little help from fate. Both Meghan and Christopher have lost front teeth (Meghan in a playground mishap, Christopher in a tumble at home), so, says McGanty, “I make them smile a lot. It would be a nightmare if they all lost their teeth at the same time.”

The twins’ parents are delighted by the profusion of double trouble in McGanty’s class. “From the time twins are born, they’re commented on,” says Michael McKay, father of Michael and Christopher. “Now they’re just part of the crowd.”

McGanty, who is engaged to be married next March, says she wants to have “lots of kids, like six.” Twins would be a bonus. “That would be the topper,” she says. “I think it would be hilarious.”

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