WILMETTE – Like a lot of kids, the two brothers from northern Illinois spent hours marveling at the weird and the wonderful in the Guinness Book of World Records – and wondering what they could do to get in it.
Their friends tried endless pogo stick jumps. One practiced in the shower for an attempt at the loudest burp.
Then, Luke and Ryan Novosel, 11-year-old twins from the Chicago suburb of Wilmette, began counting up all the other twins in their school directory and came to a startling discovery. Highcrest Middle School, it would seem, has the most sets of twins – two dozen of them – in a single grade.
"We were absolutely shocked," said their mother, Nancy Fendley. And it wouldn't just brush past the current record of 16. "It's blowing it away," she said.
With some help from mom and dad, the brothers submitted an application with Guinness earlier this year and after following up with birth certificates, photos and proof that all are enrolled at the school, they expect official recognition in several weeks.
Most of the twins are fraternal. The breakdown: three sets of boy-boy twins, 11 sets of girl-girl twins and 10 sets of boy-girl twins. The two sets of identical twins are girls.
Another fun fact: In two of the pairings are twins who bridged the midnight hour and were born on different days.
In every other way, the 48 students are typical fifth graders who are into their sports, their friends, their iPads and fighting with their siblings. But the fact that they all happen to be in the same grade at the same school is unusual.
"I think it's just statistically kind of bizarre," Fendley said.
An AP photographer visited the school Thursday to take portraits of the pairs, who came prepared with matching outfits, striking poses (think rabbit ears) and wrapping their arms around each other in front of a bank of bright blue lockers.
Sisters Mady and Mery Drilling-Coren celebrated their twin status Dr. Seuss style with red T-shirts identifying them as "Thing 1" and "Thing 2."
Three schools share the current record of 16 pairs of twins in one grade. They are Valley Southwoods Freshman High School in West Des Moines, Iowa; Staples High School in Westport, Conn.; and Maine South High School in Park Ridge, Ill.
Federal statistics show about 33 twins per 1,000 births in 2010.
The record – if it's officially declared – could get even harder to beat when the Highcrest students go on to their high school, which has many other schools, and perhaps more twins, feeding into it.
"The whole school thinks it's the greatest thing. ... It's been such a fun, creative experience," Fendley said.
Here's a gallery of images of the twins in the fifth grade at Highcrest Middle School.