Generations of twinning


Audrey Berns and Kelley Cochran

Malcia Greene, features writer

Entering the halls of KHS as sophomores felt frightening for twins Melanie Tate and Melinda McCarthy at the time. Navigating their way around school without any prior knowledge or many friends created a more exclusive environment in 1973 than 2017. As for twins of today, Clare and Isabel Gippo, feel more open to KHS among the group of friends and neat extracurriculars. While some of the beloved traditions created by the community of Kirkwood remain thriving today, KHS has had its fair share of change within the last fifty years.

“We didn’t have a freshman day like they do now, and the school had almost double the class size,” Tate said. “[It] was just so frightening and big while we tried looking for familiar faces.”

Participating in clubs was their first attempt to fit in high school. KHS Pep Club was looked highly upon for both girls. The sisters said nearly every student wanted to be a member because of all the positivity it projected. Not only did they admit it was an excellent way to show Kirkwood pride, but it was also a fun way to make friends.

“Pep rallies were always so awesome,” McCarthy said. “Especially before the Turkey Day game because everyone would go.”

Girls were known to have cliques that the twins said they wanted nothing to do with. Some groups were considered more popular than others, yet neither sister chose to get involved in the petty drama. Both made the best of it by having their own group of close friends. However, McCarthy said Tate had a rather rebellious side she chose not to take part in.

“My girls and I would smoke on the hill on Essex, or even in the bathrooms,” Tate said. “Yeah, it was forbidden, but we never got caught.”

While the two said they did not bicker often, there was always the underlying belief regarding fighting that some of their peers couldn’t seem to get over. Although each of the twins excelled in separate academic areas, some people did not regard them as individuals, but as a pair. This did not faze either of the two considering they had no interest in competing against one another.

“It was kind of hard to have your own identity,” Tate said. “You were always categorized as a certain type of twin.”

Tate and McCarthy credit KHS for their successful lives and careers beyond their teen years. The immense support and encouragement given by KHS’ teachers and staff amounted to far more than their said urge to receive good grades. Even acts as simple as displaying kindness went a long way.

“Be inclusive to peers that you aren’t super close with,” Tate said. “Obviously, you probably won’t love everybody you cross paths with, but just be kind.”

Decades later, the twins claim to be close in heart, yet not proximity. Tate remains in Kirkwood, while McCarthy now resides in Florida.

Much like Tate and McCarthy, Clare and Isabel Gippo, juniors, said they feel as though KHS has maintained its excellent reputation. The Gippo twins said they strive to make nothing less than the best of their high school years.

Both girls display their school pride through KHS’ athletic programs. Isabel played on KHS varsity hockey team last season. This spring, she joined Clare on the lacrosse field. The two said sports have been a highly rewarding part of high school at KHS.

“My favorite [sport to participate in at KHS] is hockey,” Isabel said. “It’s a refreshing way to take your mind off school for a change.”

With a lot of their peers assuming that they fight and get sick of each other quickly, that’s not the case according to them. Similarly to McCarthy and Tate, the two always have one another to lean on for support. Considering the girls don’t know life without each other, they sometimes have to defend themselves from falsely alligated judgements.

“Having Isabel [around] is honestly just like being with one of my friends,” Clare said. “Only I’m with her all the time.”

Having a schedule packed with honors and AP classes challenges their intellect. Math has always interested Clare because it’s a topic she’s said has always been able to easily grasp. As for Isabel, science courses have fascinated her more because of the hands-on experiences provided.

“Clare and I use each other a lot for help,” Isabel said. “It’s really helpful for questions and homework assignments.”

Although the two enjoy the majority of the same passions, they admit to being complete opposites as well. Clare dislikes the stereotype that twins have the same personalities and the belief that they fight a lot. Carrying traits different from the other’s is what makes these twins unique.

“Isabel is the more outgoing twin,” Clare said. “I think I’m seen as the [quieter] one at first to people who don’t know me well.”

While it remains clear that despite the modifications transforming KHS into a piece of property to a home for many, the kinship that once roamed the halls lingers through the sisterhood of tightknit twins today. Being sisters and best friends at the same time makes for high school experiences that are one of a kind as well as easier to endure for the tough times that KHS has brought among all students at some one point. Both sets of twins said they feel grateful to have their others have allowed them to appreciate one another’s existence deeper.Audrey Berns and Kelley Cochran