Photo days at this school have photographers seeing double. Located just outside of Chicago, the Illinois school has 44 sets of twins and one set of triplets in its Class of 2020. And for that, it has broken two Guinness World Records.
“It’s not an academic achievement, it’s not a skill-type of achievement but it’s an achievement nevertheless,” said Luke Novosel, who along with his 15-year-old twin, Ryan, discovered the original record and then applied to set a new one. “There’s something unique you share with a twin, but you also have a special bond when you meet other twins.”
The brothers and their parents started the application process at the beginning of the last academic school year but didn’t hear back from Guinness Book of World Records until 18 months after they submitted their paperwork.
All 91 students who helped set the new record posed for a photo at their school Wednesday. Luke said the process of tracking down his classmates and getting to know many of them has been rewarding.
“This has opened up the opportunity to have way more friendships. I met more people yesterday at my school that I didn’t know were twins,” he told TODAY. “It was amazing to see the grand scale of it all — 91 kids. It was astonishing.”
The national average has risen to about 30 twins per 1,000 births, according to CDC data. Meanwhile, New Trier has a student population of just over 1,000 and produced a single class with the 91 twins.
Studies have suggested several factors play a role in twinning, including the age of the mother, education, wealth and access to fertility treatments.
There’s quite a bit of variation among members of the group, according to the school. Two sets of fraternal twins were born on different days, while some were born up to three months early others were born late.
One pair has a difference in height of 7 inches. One pair of girls were born weighing more than 15 lbs. but a set of boys born prematurely each weighed less than 2 lbs.
Two families have two sets of twins – one of which also has three sets of twin cousins.
The school said 70 percent of the twins were born in Chicago or Evanston.
A spokesperson for the Guinness Book of World Records said the record was verified on May 17, 2017. The school said took about 18 months to receive news of the verification.
Nancy Fendley, Luke’s mother, called having 45 sets of multiples “statistically astounding.”
“It’s a fluke. It’s an anomaly. It’s three times the national average. Where 1 in 30 births are twins, we’re one in 10, so it’s incredible,” she told TODAY.
Fendley attributes the high number of multiples to several demographic factors. She said her community has a large proportion of financially secure residents, which means they have easier access to traditionally costly fertility treatment. And because many are college-educated professionals, they tend to have put off having children to establish their careers — and she said women who tend to wait until they are older to become pregnant generally have a higher chance of multiple births.
“That’s part of what’s in the water of our community. The demographic of this high school is a highly educated, affluent community,” said Fendley, who also has two younger daughters — who are not twins.
“It’s kind of amazing that we can achieve something by just being born at the right time and going to the right school,” one New Trier student told WMAQ-TV .