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School Sends Twins Their Separate Ways

Siblings: Each of five kindergarten twosomes in North Hollywood is split so the children are taught as individuals.


Step into the kindergarten classes at Adat Ari El Day School in North Hollywood and you may do a double take.

There are five sets of twins among the 50 kindergartners at the 307-student private elementary school on Burbank Boulevard.

The twins are brothers David and Max Mandel, Noah and Eytan Wallace, and Itai and Omri Peled; sisters Rachel and Jodi Marcus;and the Dimants, brother Barak and his sister Gall.

Luckily for kindergarten teachers Shelley Belafsky and Caitlin Lawrence the siblings have been separated and placed in two classrooms, making life a little less confusing.

Although the two teachers frequently interact with students in both classes--and must keep track of who's who--Belafsky said she makes a point of getting to know each child one-on-one.

"Everyone said, 'Oh my God. Five sets of twins. How are you going to deal with them?' " Belafsky said, standing in the doorway of her classroom. "Kids are kids. They are their own person. I treat each of them as an individual."

Similarly, school administrators said they thought long and hard about whether to keep the twins together or separate them.

"We looked at each set of twins individually to see what each child's needs were," said Lana Marcus, the head of school and mother of twin daughters Rachel and Jodi. "We decided to break them up because they each had a sense of independence and individuality."

Educators must be mindful of the unique social and academic needs of twins, Marcus said.

"There have been cases where one twin overpowers the other academically and socially," she said, "and the other one is stifled and feels like they are under the other's thumb."

Marcus' daughter Jodi doesn't seem to mind being separated from Rachel.

"We are always going to be in separate classes, so we won't cry or play," she said, standing in the sandbox next to Rachel after a romp on the jungle gym.

Similarly, Naomi Wallace of North Hollywood said her fraternal twin boys, Noah and Eytan, have very distinct likes and dislikes and see themselves as individuals.

"I rarely refer to them as twins," Wallace said. "I want other people to see them as individuals and not as part of a unit."

As the school year progresses, Wallace said, she and her husband, Alan, expect to tackle two sets of the same nightly homework and class projects, as well as plan two school birthday parties for the same day.

But, she said, that's all part of being a mother of multiples.

As for Marcus, the five sets of twins in kindergarten give school officials a glimpse of the future: "There are seven sets of twins in seven classes in our early childhood center."

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