From attending each other’s backyard birthday parties as toddlers to walking the stage at their high school graduation, five sets graduating twins from Long Island have been classmates since preschool.
The 10 graduating seniors are among 109 students in Mattituck Junior-Senior High School’s class of 2022 who will graduate on June 25 in a traditional indoor ceremony in the high school gymnasium.
“One would suspect if you have five sets of twins in a class, some may have come in at the middle of the journey,” says David Smith, principal at Mattituck Junior-Senior High School, which teaches students in grades 7 through 12. “But this is a group that goes back to the day they started in the schoolhouse in Laurel.
The close-knit teens were 10th graders when the Covid-19 pandemic hit, putting off club activities, sports, and their usual hangouts. Though they saw each other less during this time, they’ve reunited in the 2021-22 school year.
Twins Isabella and Nicolette Cianfrogna and Julienne and Kathryn Schuch live down the road from each other. Their mothers met around the time they were born, and the four girls have been friends ever since.
“They were our first friends ever, and we always used to go on double play dates,” Isabella says. “We were always in the same classes and wore our own matching colors. Jules and I were the pinks, Nicolette and Kate were the blues.”
“Growing up together from the second we have been able to remember has been the greatest thing ever. It’s like having built-in sisters,” Julienne adds. “We always know we’re there for each other.”
All four young women participated in Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) club throughout high school, helping to educate younger students about the dangers of bullying as well as drug and alcohol use. Though they discuss serious topics, they say it’s been a great way to enjoy their time and bond with other students in the Mattituck-Cutchogue School District, as well as spearhead a mental health awareness initiative this year.
But being twins had its downsides too. The girls say it was easy for other students to compare – or confuse – them with their twin. “I didn’t like dealing with comparisons,” Nicolette says. “I like being my own person.”
As they enter college in the fall, the twins have a new chance to explore their individuality. Julienne will attend High Point University in North Carolina, while her sister, Kathryn, is going to Flagler College in Florida. Isabella will attend Hunter College in Manhattan, and Nicolette will go to Cortland University in upstate New York.
“Basically my whole life, I’ve been with my sister. The longest we’ve been apart is maybe two days,” Isabella says. “I’m going to FaceTime her as much as I can, and visit her.”
The graduating class of 2022 is Smith’s first as principal of the high school; he was previously the assistant principal. He says he’ll remember the students for their “leadership that they showed and how hard they worked with us to restore a lot of the traditions and to bring the energy back to school that Covid kind of hijacked.
“I’m really proud of what they’ve done,” he says. “I’m glad I went through this journey with them, and I’m going to miss them.”