The birth of twins is a very rare occurrence; the odds of fraternal twins being born are 60 to one, while for identical twins, the odds are 240 to one. But because of Stuyvesant’s sizable population, the school has a number of students with an identical or fraternal twin. Though having a twin presents unique difficulties that few other students can relate to, many twins find that their siblings can be trustworthy allies and worthy competitors.
Jack and David Cahn
Sophomores David and Jack Cahn have been going to school together since Pre-K. As they have grown older, they have developed healthy competition with each other, which has been fostered at Stuyvesant.
“Having a twin is a built-in [metric] for how well I’m doing in school. It’s a motivator,” David Cahn said.
This year, the Cahns have six classes together . “You can’t image how irritating that is. Together we are overwhelming, and teachers tend to group us together,” David Cahn said.
They have also participated in many of the same extracurricular activities. The brothers sponsored a bill together in Junior Statesmen of America, ran for Freshman Caucus together in 2010, and are currently public forum debate partners.
“Because I have a twin brother, I’ve never been afraid to challenge the status quo, or to fight for something I believe in, because I’m well supported,” Jack Cahn said.
The Cahns have faced some challenges at Stuyvesant due to their rare situation. “People consider us each one half of a whole, part of a unit. It’s ironic; people have a 50 percent chance of getting my name right, but they get it wrong 75 percent of the time. We are the same person at Stuy,” David Cahn said.
He added that this becomes a problem when they apply for positions. “People feel obliged not to give it to both twins,” David Cahn said. “Even if we are both the most qualified, one is rejected simply by merit of being a twin.”
However, the Cahns do not deny that there are some perks to being twins in the same school. “Because Stuyvesant is such a large school, most people don’t know the majority of students in their grade. However, from day one, everybody knew us. We were and are ‘the Jewish twins,’” said Jack Cahn, noting that they gained this reputation by wearing yarmulkes everyday.
The Cahns never find it surprising when classmates ask “Which twin are you?” They also often get asked if they are telepathic. “Our answer is always ‘yes,’” Jack Cahn said.
Sara and Dina Levy-Lambert
Some twins find that they thrive more after choosing separate roads for high school. Such is the case of junior Dina Levy-Lambert, who no longer goes to school with her fraternal twin, sophomore Sara Levy-Lambert.
The Levy-Lambert twins went to school together in Frankfurt, Germany from preschool to elementary school, until Dina skipped a grade. Here in New York, they enjoy attending different schools, because it allows them to form their own identities. “When I tell people that I have a twin sister, they are surprised, because usually twins are in the same school, since they are so similar,” Sara Levy-Lambert said.
They said that the divide has not disrupted their relationship. “Even though we go to different schools, I always have someone to talk to, and Sara is still basically my best friend,” Dina Levy-Lambert said.
Still, Sara finds herself constantly explaining to people that she has a twin who skipped a grade on top of going to Stuyvesant. “I feel like even though I joke about it all the time, I still compare myself to her, and I still resent her sometimes for having skipped a grade and for the fact that she went to a better school than I did,” Sara Levy-Lambert said.
While the sisters enjoy a close relationship, Sara and Dina Levy-Lambert have separate groups of friends, in part to maintain this amiability. “She already knows everything that goes on in my life and that I can’t really keep anything from her. Living with her causes enough arguments,” Dina Levy-Lambert said.
Bebe and Lea LeGardeur
After 12 years of going to school together, the LeGardeur twins went their separate ways in high school, when junior Bebe LeGardeur chose to go to Stuyvesant and her twin Lea LeGardeur elected to go to Bronx Science. On top of going to rival schools, the twins also compete in track.
However, the LeGardeur twins do not mind attending different schools, even when these schools have a rivalry as strong as the one between Stuyvesant and Bronx Science. “With people that we have both known for a long time, we do sometimes get clumped together into one identity, but that has started to feel like it is happening less,” Bebe LeGardeur said.
Even though they attend different schools, the urge to academically compete with each other is still present. “It’s hard not to compare myself to Lea in my head, [...] because I always want to do as well as she does at school,” Bebe LeGardeur said.
However, she also notes that she “[doesn’t] think people compare [them] that much.”
When people learn that the LeGardeur sisters are, in fact, twins, they often jest, “But aren’t you the same person?”
For all the times she’s heard it, Bebe LeGardeur does not appreciate this question. “I get that it’s a joke, but it’s still just really annoying, because half the time people ask this, they have never met Lea, so they have no one to compare me to. Also, people always ask it as if they thought up something really clever to say about twins, which it isn’t,” Bebe LeGardeur said.
Another challenge the LeGardeur twins have struggled with is balancing spending time with each other with spending time with their respective friend groups.
“Most people don’t have to deal with this in the same way because most people don’t think of their sister or brother as a friend who they really want to hang out with. They are just their sister or brother,” Bebe LeGardeur said.
Twins are often thought to have similar personalities, think the same way, or even be able to communicate telepathically with each other. While this may or may not be true and is still being debated and researched in the scientific community, even twins separated at birth and reunited in their adulthood have been found to have strikingly similar personalities and interests. While no twins are exactly identical in all aspects of their lives, having similar personalities written, on some level, into their genetics can make twins all the more likely to become close friends.