Seeing double

June 27th, 2015 1:53 am

First Posted: 6/6/2013

Maybe it was something in the water.

As gradates of Pittston Area walk across the stage on Tuesday, a record eight sets of twins will accept diplomas: Austin and Kyle Kostelansky; Tiana and Taylor Stull Saporio; Joe and Jillian Starinsky; Marina and Michael Sell; Adam and Alicia Chopyak; Blase and Michael Chopyak; Brian and Mary Theresa Anderson and Kristen and Catherine Lombardo.

That’s 7 percent of the class.

The Lombardo twins are the fourth generation of multiple births in their family. Their mother, the former Susan Donovan, is a twin. There is another set of twins and a set of triplets in their lineage as well.

In 1980, one in every 53 babies born in the United States was a twin. By 2009, that number had risen to one in every 30, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.

Their father, former Pittston Mayor Michael Lombardo said Kristen and Catherine are complete opposites.

“Until she was 13, Kristen preferred to shop in the boys section for clothes,” Lombardo said. “Kristen has dark hair and dark eyes and she’s pretty outgoing. Catherine is light-skinned, has blue eyes and she’s more quite and reserved.”

But their relationship is strong, he said. Growing up, the girls shared a bedroom because there was only one available. But after the family moved to a bigger house on Broad Street and had the option of having their own bedroom, the girls decided to continue staying in the same bedroom.

“They have a wonderful relationship,” Lombardo said.

The two, who rarely use their first names when referring to each other, call each other “Sis.”

The twins decided to attend college at the University of Notre Dame, but this time they’ll be apart for the first time in their lives, albeit the same college and same goal.

One is majoring in psychology and the other in history. “But we both want to go to law school,” Catherine said.

Michael Lombardo said parenting is never easy, especially with twins. They were born 14 minutes apart back in 1994, but Lombardo said there’s no seniority.

“Like anything else, it’s always about finding a balance,” Lombardo said. “You hear, ‘That’s not fair’ and it gets complicated. The playing field is totally different.”

Austin and Kyle Kostelansky of Pittston, who are identical twins, admitted to using the “ole’ switcharoo” on a teacher or two in school.

“No one would notice,” Kyle said. “We would just swap around and the teacher would just be clueless. We’d swap seats, and when they finally catch on, it’s after the bell.”

Luckily, they said, their parents, Ron and Lori, never were forced to dress the same.

“We’re not that crazy,” Austin said.

Identical twins share the same DNA but do not have the same fingerprints.

Tiana and Taylor Stull Saporitio of Jenkins Township, also identical twins, dress the same “all the time.”

“We only fooled one substitute teacher,” Tiana laughed. “We’re not going to use names because she’s here now.”

Joe and Jillian Starinsky of Avoca enjoy joking around with each other. When asked if they get along, Joe responded “no” and Jillian shot back “he’s not nice.”

Marina and Michael Sell of Pittston said they are fraternal twins.

“We’re twins but we look different,” Michael said. “We’re the opposite of identical twins.”

Identical twins form when a single fertilized egg splits into two and often look so similar it can be difficult to tell them apart. Fraternal twins develop from two separate fertilized eggs and are no more alike than individual brothers or sisters born at different times.

But the bond is strong.

Blase and Michael Twardowski of Pittston Township, fraternal twins, will both be attending LCCC in the fall, but Blase will study graphic design and Michael will study audio recording technology.

Adam Chopyak is 15 minutes older than his twin sister, Alicia.

“I’m going to college, what are you doing,” Alicia asked her brother. “I’m up for whatever happens,” he responded.

In 1973, a class totaling 89 seniors, the former St. John’s High School graduated three sets of twins: Robert and Barbara Kirk, Joseph and George Sharkey and Mary Ann and Joseph Petro.

Principal John Haas said he’s noticed the twins’ growth. He said they arrive very dependent on each other as freshman, but become independent. .

“They’re often each other’s best friend,” Haas said. “As similar as they are when they start and as they move through high school, you see them develop their own style and rhythm. You see them grow into individuals.”

Family and friendship is very important in Pittston Area, Haas said.

“It’s one of the things we’re most proud of,” Haas said. “Our twins are amazing. All our graduates are amazing.”