DARCY ROLLINS, KINDERGARTEN teacher at the Burnham Village School in Burnham, Maine, had a problem one recent afternoon. Alexis and Airen Lodge, 5-year-old identical twins, showed up in matching purple jeans, blue floral T-shirts and bangs. So how did she tell them apart? Easy, says a classmate: “Airen has the Band-Aid on her finger.”
Teachers and kids at Burnham Village have become adept at such distinctions. This year the little brick schoolhouse, with just 79 kindergarten through third-grade students, has five sets of twins, four identical. All are girls. “It’s quite unique,” says principal Mike Gallagher, 43, noting that nationally about one in 80 births results in twins. “We’re five times the normal.”
The strange phenomenon has turned Burnham (pop. 1,009) into something of a media circus since school began on Aug. 26. Folks from Maury Povich’s talk show called. Syndicated-radio commentator Paul Harvey mentioned the twins. CBS News’ This Morning dropped by.
During such visits the twins’ classmates are glad to help keep their names straight. Kylie Huff, 8, they point out, has more freckles than her sister Kady; Amanda Asaro’s twin, Bianca, 7, has a birthmark; on this day, Sabrina and Sarah Madore, 5, have different colored stripes on their shirts. Sarah and Beccah Dodd, 6, are the fraternals, but they look enough alike that their mother helps out by dressing them differently, too. “Nothing like this has happened before,” says Gallagher. “This is the most publicity Burnham has ever had.”
It may continue. “I’ve heard,” says Gallagher, “there may be another set next year.”