BUNKER HILL, Ind. — Sixteen tiny kindergartners sat on the slide at Pipe Creek Elementary in on their first day of school, waiting for a photographer to take their picture.
It was clear that many didn't know why they were waiting out there on the preschool playground on their first day of classes Thursday. But those 16 children are bound together by a common thread — they are all twins.
Laura Fulton, principal at this school 70 miles north of Indianapolis, thought it was a joke at first.
Her secretary kept calling her during kindergarten registration. Every time, she said the same thing: There is another set of twins.
There were four and then five. And then suddenly there were seven and then eight. Fulton was stunned.
"I said someone has to be playing a trick on us," she said. "This can't be true."
The eight sets of twins make up 10 percent of the kindergarten class. And they are part of a national trend in twin births. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in 2012 that twin births have more than doubled in the past 30 years. The increase is attributed mostly to an increase in mothers over age 35, who are both more likely to conceive twins naturally and also more likely to receive fertility treatments that result in twins.
At Pipe Creek, twin sisters Madison and Mayah Brennan said they do everything together. In fact, after school Thursday, the girls planned to ride their bikes with no training wheels. The girls were inseparable, clinging to each other on the playground while they waited for a group photo with their fellow twins.
Both said they were relieved to be in the same class this year. Fulton asked them why.
"Because we’re friends, and we wanted to be together," Mayah said.
Fulton said usually she lets parents of twins decide for themselves if they want their children in the same class. This year, only one of the eight sets of parents considered separating their kids.
In the end, the principal kept them all together, though.
"We thought for management purposes, it would be easier to have one set in each of the eight classrooms," she said.
In a nearby classroom, twin brothers Aaron and Greg Warnock sat in beanbag chairs and looked through magazines.
Both said they were nervous about their first day of school. They couldn't even imagine what it would be like if they didn’t have each other there with them.
"That would be even scarier," Greg said.
Lindsey Ziliak is a reporter for the Kokomo Tribune in Kokomo, Ind.