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Kindergarten class at Shaler Area's Burchfield boasts 10 sets of twins

Philip G. Pavely | Tribune-Review
Burchfield Primary School currently has 10 sets of twins in their kindergarten class of around 100 in the Shaler Area building Wednesday, September 25, 2013.

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Behind the numbers

Shaler Area's Burchfield Primary School is seeing double this year with 10 sets of twins in the building's 2013-14 kindergarten class of 98.

Chad Schafer, an associate professor of statistics at Carnegie Mellon University, said the probability of the school's twin phenomenon is about 1 in 1,400 based on the statistic that 1 in 30 live births are twins.

However, he stresses the statistics have to be looked at in context.

“People they forget about the fact that you picked out that classroom because that interesting fact occurred there,” Schafer said. “These sorts of rare events you hear about in the news, you have to think about all the other possibilities out there.”

For example, if there were 300 elementary buildings of similar-sized kindergarten classes, the probability that one class would have 10 sets of twins is 1 in 5.

“It's just like saying if I was going to flip a coin, flipping a head 10 out of 10 times is unlikely, but if I have 2,000 people, at least one of them getting 10 out of 10 is almost certain,” Schafer said.

By Bethany Hofstetter
Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

At the beginning of every school year, kindergarten teacher Dana Kokos talks to her students about their class being like a family, but this year, many of the students are family.

Shaler Area's Burchfield Primary School boasts 10 sets of twins in the building's 2013-14 kindergarten class totaling 98, an unprecedented number for the school.

“I've never seen that many,” said Kokos, who has two sets of twins in her Burchfield classroom. “It's pretty crazy they're all in kindergarten and all in one school. It's very exciting.”

Of the 355 kindergartners enrolled in Shaler Area this year, there are 18 sets of twins throughout the five primary buildings, with the highest number at Burchfield Primary.

“Luckily, we have four classrooms, so we have two to three sets in each one,” Burchfield Principal Jeff Rojik said.

Rojik said the number of siblings in kindergarten has led to a smooth start to the beginning of the school year.

“One of the things that has been nice is there's been a good transition back to school,” Rojik said. “There are 20 kids who have a familiar face; 20 percent of the kids know somebody, and them being calm is contagious.”

In addition, many of the Burchfield twin sets knew each other before the start of school from preschool, dance or community sports programs.

This year's kindergarten celebrities include Trevor and Troy Cignetti, Carly and Jayden Karbowski, Bradyn and Blake Whiteman, Abby and Emma Gunde, Jake and Mackenzie Murphy, Deven and Kori Wilson, Cy and Sally Engel, Kai and Seda Ruefle, Adam and Isabella Hoffman, and Taylor and Zachary London.

“It's crazy,” said Jamie Murphy, Jake and Mackenzie's mother. “I didn't have twins in my class until 10th grade of high school, and here, we have 10 sets in one school. It's nice for them because they don't feel different.”

Murphy's children are in Kristine Bork's kindergarten class with two other sets of twins, including their cousins, the Gundes, who are the only identical twins in the Burchfield group, and the Wilsons.

Bork has been a Shaler Area kindergarten teacher for 14 years, but this is the first time she has had three sets of twins in her class.

Bork tries to encourage individuality by separating the twins as much as possible, but during lunch and recess, the four girls in the twin pairs seem to stick together.

However, as a teacher, Bork said the twin pairs don't have a large impact on the classroom dynamics; among the pairs, there are 10 boys and 10 girls and 20 different personalities.

“I wasn't sure how it was going to work, but it seems to work out fine,” Bork said. “It's just like having 25 individual kids in the class.”

Bethany Hofstetter is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6364 or

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