There are 13 sets of twins at Country Day. Some of the twins and their parents shared memorable childhood experiences.
Priya and Bella Chand
Eighth graders Priya and Bella Chand are fraternal twins, but they look identical. Although they are both 13 years old, Priya brags about being two minutes older, and Bella boasts about being taller.
They enjoy playing ping pong and doing arts and crafts, specifically painting together. They don’t do everything together. Bella enjoys soccer and shopping; Priya likes gardening and riding her electric scooter.
They also have different styles. Bella is more into fashion and makeup, while Priya wears more casual clothes and isn’t as girly.
Because they are both extroverts, quarantine has been tough.
“We miss our friends and getting to hang out with them,” Priya said.
“Online school isn’t that great either. We can’t wait for school to go back to in person,” Bella said.
One of their favorite memories is a mermaid-themed birthday they shared.
“Our parents had a painter come, and he painted us as mermaids,” Priya said.
They said having a twin is very different from just having a sibling because they always have been together. They think their bond is stronger, and they enjoy having each other.
Marley and Maya Heller
Fifth graders Marley and Maya Heller are 10-year-old fraternal twins.
Maya’s favorite activities are drawing still life and reading. She also likes to watch cooking and baking competition shows.
Some of Marley’s favorite activities include swimming, drawing and listening to music.
They like to play with their dog, Kona, play tennis, listen to music together and play Roblox and workout games with Amazon’s Alexa.
“We love pranking each other by sneaking up behind one another and scaring them,” Maya said.
Maya is more patient than Marley, while Marley is more outgoing than Maya.
There’s nothing they don’t love about being twins. They’re glad they’ll always have each other.
Demian and Isandro Arriaga
Five-year-old Demian and Isandro Arriaga are fraternal twins who are in kindergarten. Their mother, Audrey Russek, comes from a family of twins, so she has some twin experience.
They enjoy riding bikes and scooters together and playing board games.
“They like to create their own board games,” Russek said.
“With Candyland, they create new game boards with more types of candy and game pieces to play with.”
They don’t do everything as a pair, though.
“Even though they’re twins, they are their own people who like different things,” Russek said.
Demian is very creative and is the one who enjoys creating his own game boards the most. He also loves soccer and bell peppers. Isandro enjoys more structured projects, like art and school. He especially likes math games.
When Russek asked them what they like about being twins, Demian said, “We have a lot of fun together,” and Isandro said they can “help each other out.”
They enjoy having each other to play with and are very supportive and protective of each other.
Violet and Evan Birkeland
Five-year-old Violet and Evan Birkeland are fraternal twins who attend kindergarten teacher Richele Cooley’s class.
Some of Violet’s favorite things are cats and princesses. She also enjoys drawing and building using legos with her brother. Evan’s interests are sports, superheroes and playing with his friends.
Especially during the pandemic, they have been spending more time together.
“They also love telling jokes and making each other laugh,” said their mother, Suzy Birkeland.
“It’s been really amazing having twins during this time because they have a playmate and can keep each other company.”
A fond memory of them was when the family went to Disneyland for the first time. Violet’s eyes lit up when she saw Mickey and Minnie.
“It was a really cute moment,” Suzy said.
Violet and Evan are very protective of one another and enjoy each other’s company, Suzy said.
Gavin and Stella Hannafin
Five-year-old Gavin and Stella Hannafin are fraternal twins in kindergarten.
Their father, Blaine Hannafin, said they get along and love playing with legos or in the yard. Separately, Stella likes drawing and Gavin likes building legos with his brothers.
One of the cutest things they do is when they stay up late and talk, Blaine said.
“They’ll also try to sneak out of their room together, but when they hear us walking down the hall, they’ll run back to their room,” Blaine said.
Stella likes making gifts for people and is independent, while Gavin is extroverted and fearless.
One time, Gavin got lost in Disneyland because he didn’t feel the need to stay close, and his family found him trying to get on a roller coaster from the exit.
“There is something exponentially cute about having twins, and I’m glad they have each other as company and as a playmate,” Blaine said.
Jamie and Ryan Hofmann
Five-year-old Jamie and Ryan Hofmann are identical twins and attend April Sanders’ kindergarten class.
They enjoy a lot of the same things like riding their bikes and swimming. They also love building Star Wars Lego spaceships.
“They are remarkably similar and have become even more so ever since everything closed down,” their mother, Jennifer Hofmann, said.
When they were babies, if one began laughing or giggling, it would set the other off, and they would both giggle in unison, Jennifer said.
They are inseparable and never do anything without the other. For example, they even wake each other up at night to go to the bathroom together. They are protective of each other and are best friends. They both love reading, but Jamie loves it when Ryan reads to him, so Ryan will read to Jamie for hours.
A memory that stood out to Jennifer was when the twins met another pair of identical twins for the first time.
One time, they went to the San Francisco Botanical Garden when the twins were about four and a half and there was a set of identical twins who were young adults, Jennifer said.
“They had similar outfits and haircuts, and the two men walked up to me and asked if my boys were twins. I answered ‘yes’ and told my boys the men were twins like them. Jamie then reached out and gave one of them a hug. It was a very interesting and sweet moment which we still talk about.”
Charlie and Henry Manolarakis
Five-year-old Charlie and Henry Manolarakis are fraternal twins in kindergarten.
They love swimming, riding their bikes and decorating them. They also enjoy making bracelets and hand puppets for shows for the family. Separately, Henry loves acrobatics and doing tricks on his bike, while Charlie loves painting, dancing and singing.
“Their personalities are completely night and day, but that makes it fun for the parents,” said their mother, Esther Manolarakis. “But, they still get along amazingly well. They are very loving, and they look out for each other. When one is scared, the other one will hold their hand to comfort him.”
They both really enjoy playing dress up, which is one of Esther’s fondest memories.
“For a child’s 1-year-old birthday, it’s our family’s traditions to wear traditional clothes to celebrate. To honor this tradition, our boys wore Greek and Korean clothes to celebrate the culture with the entire family,” Manolarakis said. “That day was a blast.”
— By Emily Cook
Originally published in the Oct. 20 edition of the Octagon.