DEVILS LAKE – The Devils Lake High School Class of 2021 knows all about multiples.
Three sets of twins and a set of triplets make up nearly 10% of the senior class that will graduate on Sunday, May 30. Three are girls and six are boys, and all nine have spring birthdays.
The twins are Erin and Blair Clementich, whose birthday is March 1; Karli and Kale Krogfoss, June 11; and Julian and Julius McKay, May 21. Gabriel, Jeremiah and Hannah Houle are triplets, with a May 9 birthday.
Most of the multiples in the senior class were in the same classroom for their elementary years. However, the McKays, who are identical twins, were separated so their teachers could tell them apart.
Now their eyeglasses – Julius has dark frames and Julian has frameless – distinguish one from the other.
After the end of one elementary school year, school staff broached the subject of separating Blair and Erin Clementich the next fall. Erin recalls bursting into tears at the mere thought.
“I said 'No, because I want my brother there to protect me,”’ she said.
Blair Clementich can boast that he started looking after his sister earlier than most brothers..
“The day we were born I had a heart murmur. Blair was the first baby to be born, so the doctors had to put a suction on his head to get him out faster so they could get to me and my heart,” Erin said. “He came out yellow with a broken collar bone since I was sitting on him in the womb.
“My mom likes to say ‘Be nice to your brother, because he saved your life,’” she said.
That’s been easy for her to do because she and Blair have a close relationship.
“Having a twin is like having a built-in best friend. We always have someone to talk to,” she said. When the two were young, Erin also took advantage of being a twin to play pranks on people, playing along with their playmates’ belief that twins are intuitive of one another.
“When I was little I pretended I would feel Blair's pain,” she said. For example if a neighbor boy hit Blair in the left arm, she grabbed her left arm and said “Ouch.”
Though they are close, the Clementich twins and the other sets of multiples in the senior class of Devils Lake High School have distinct personalities, said Ryan Hanson, Devils Lake High School principal.
“They are each their own individual. They are known for who they are, not for being half a set of twins or one of a set of triplets,” he said.
The difference in their personalities is demonstrated by their choices of extracurricular activities and their college plans. For example, Karli Krogfoss played basketball volleyball and softball, and her brother was involved in drama, speech and student council.
After they graduate from Devils Lake High School, each set of seniors has unique plans for their future. Julius McKay, for example, will work at a daycare and Julian hopes to enlist in the U.S. Army.
Erin Clementich wants to study dance or pursue a career in medicine, and her twin plans to earn a degree in wind technology.
Being apart after attending school together for many years likely will be an adjustment for the sets of twins and triplets.
“It’s probably going to be weird for a little while,” Hannah Houle said.