Almost every kid secretly wishes to claim a record in the Guinness Book of World Records, but to break two?
Believe it or not, with 45 sets of multiples (44 twins and one set of triplets) in the sophomore year at New Trier High School, New Trier just claimed two Guinness World Records: Most Twins and Most Multiples in a Single Academic Year at One School. New Trier broke the previous record of 24 sets of twins in a single grade held by Highcrest Middle School in Wilmette since 2013.
Wilmette twins Luke and Ryan Novosel, the dynamic duo who first discovered and led their middle school to break the first record, were confident heading into high school that they could break the record again.
“We knew we had another record coming into New Trier,” Luke said, at a press conference on February 7.
As Luke and Ryan stood at the podium with their mother Nancy Fendley Novosel, the sophomore class multiples sat on the risers behind them — some wearing matching shirts or sweatshirts — smiling at the television news cameras. Most of the teens were girls, with 19 sets of female twins and one set of female triplets, compared to 11 sets of male twins, and 14 sets of boy/girl twins.
Since entering high school, the Novosels have been gathering information to break their previous record. Guinness World Records requires applicants to submit birth certificates, school enrollment letters, photos and witness statements, according to Fendley Novosel. The numbers were in their favor, since of the 24 sets at Highcrest who broke the first record, 23 sets entered New Trier in the fall of 2016.
While the Novosels put the information together pretty quickly, it took Guiness 17 months to get back to them with the records. In the meantime, all of the multiples had to double-down and keep the effort a secret.
But being twins has more benefits than just seeing double. Fendley Novosel read some of the things the sets had listed as the best part of being a multiple — study buddies, best friends, someone to laugh with, never lonely, someone to trust, someone to do things with — were just a few aspects she shared.
Anna and Lily Feinerman from Winnetka were one of the sets of twins who helped break the record. They are not identical twins — Anna has red hair and Lily is dirty blonde — but they still enjoy their inseparable bond and love the award. “I think it is so cool to think we are being recognized for this as a whole,” Anna said.
Out of the whole group, only four pairs are identical, and they are all girls. Tessa and Lyla Vivian of Winnetka are identical twins who thought it was pretty cool to be recognized without really doing anything. The girls have fun tricking people sometimes, because it is so hard to tell them apart. They’ve switched gym classes once at New Trier, unbeknownst to their teacher, who didn’t even notice.
The experience has also given parents an opportunity to reflect on their own children. Mary Jacob of Northfield has twin girls who participated in the record. “I think it is very interesting that the boys came up with this when they were younger and did it again now. To include everybody is really exciting,” Jacob said. Her twins are the youngest of six girls, and were a fun surprise for Jacob and her husband. “They were the buy one get one free package,” she remarked.
Wilmette resident Margie Karabas has a set of boy/girl twins, who are very different but close to one another. “They are very different but tend to come together when it gets tough,” she said.
While breaking the Guinness records is remarkable, the rate of twin births in the United States reached a record high in 2014, when one in 30 babies born in the U.S. were twins. It may be more than just the water in New Trier Township though, since some factors that lead to multiple births — maternal age, education, affluence and access to fertility treatments — are all very common to North Shore demographics.
Nonetheless, the New Trier sophomores are pretty unique, with numbers that are three times the national average. “Statistically it is just stunning,” Fendley Novosel said.