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Three sets of triplets graduate from Bishop O'Connell High School

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As the two dads chatted in the used book sale line, they realized, astoundingly, that they were both the parents of triplets who were entering their freshman year at Bishop O’Connell High School in Arlington. What was even more surprising is that they weren’t the only ones. O’Connell’s Class of 2019 has three sets of triplets: Blaise, Skye and Rory Hartsoe; Paul, Henry and Ruth Lewarne; and Brendan, Maura and Kyle Leverone.

Once at O’Connell, it wasn’t long before they all met one another. “Our parents force introduced us at the first football game,” said Kyle. “It was really weird.” The teenagers laughed recalling the awkwardness of the situation. They were the only triplets at their respective grade schools, but occasionally had classmates who were twins. “We would always one up them,” said Paul. Oh, you’re twins? "That’s cute.” 

Though their first meeting was a little uncomfortable, the seniors realized they do have many unusual shared experiences, such as people constantly being wowed by their existence. 

“Cashiers in the grocery store get so into it,” said Skye.

But all the triplets are fraternal, and occasionally their dissimilar appearances make people doubt that they’re triplets. “People don’t believe us,” said Skye. “At restaurants when we’re like, ‘Oh it’s the triplets’ birthday,’ they’ll be like, ‘OK, it’s not all three of your birthdays.’ ”

All nine agreed that being a triplet means having two built-in best friends. It means there’s always a triplet who managed to bring home the right textbook for homework, and someone to cover your shift at the Italian Store. It means being stuck together, and sometimes getting lumped together in frustrating ways. The Hartsoes were once offered one chair for the three of them; the Lewarnes once received one collective award made from a paper plate at the end of a swim team season. 

Being part of a triplet also means answering to a lot of curious strangers. “The dumbest question that I’ve ever gotten, multiple times I’ve gotten this question — can you (use) telepathy?” said Henry. “No, that’s not possible.” They don’t feel each other’s pain, and usually have no idea how their sister is coming along with that essay, either. But they are undeniably close. Sometimes, too close. 

“A bad thing for me is, if you’re the only person in your grade, you kind of have your secrets in school, just your friends,” said Brendan. “But with your two other siblings in the same grade with similar friends, they know everything.”

“They’re always trying to get in your business,” said Henry. “My business is my business.”

While they all have individual interests, they naturally became involved in each other’s hobbies and became friends with their triplets’ friends. 

After Paul joined cross-country, Henry joined the next year and Ruth the year after that. “I started a following,” said Paul. 

During their senior year, Brendan and Kyle played golf together, Brendan and Maura both play basketball and all three were involved in student government. “I live and breathe sports because I’m around two brothers,” said Maura. 

When the seniors were younger, their shared activities weren’t always voluntary. “Especially because we’re all girls, we all did ballet and then we all did gymnastics and we all did Girl Scouts,” said Blaise. 

“My mom wouldn’t take us somewhere if all three of us couldn’t go,” said Skye. 

The triplets do have other siblings. The Hartsoes have an older brother and sister and one younger brother. The Leverones have an older sister. The Lewarnes have a younger brother.

Though their triplet-ness is noteworthy, each of the nine students is impressive in his or her own right, with laundry lists of clubs, sports and leaderships positions to their names. Blaise focused her Girl Scout Gold Award project on mental health and will attend Emory University in Oxford, Ga. Skye started a musical tutoring program for elementary school children and will attend Georgetown University in Washington. Rory enjoys crafting for those in need, including knitting dozens of hats for newborn babies, and will attend Virginia Tech in Blacksburg. 

Brendan, who will attend Villanova University in Villanova, Pa., was part of the basketball team and club, that taught basketball basics to students with special needs. His brother, Kyle, played hockey and golf, and will attend Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. Maura will play basketball at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pa. 

Henry, like Paul, is an Eagle Scout and will attend Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. Paul helped run the charitable fundraiser Superdance and will attend Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond. Ruth has served on mission trips, including a trip to Peru with fellow O’Connell students, and plans to attend Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio. 

After 18 years of close proximity, all the triplets are going to different schools. They said they weren’t purposely trying to get away from each other, but they didn’t try to stay together, either. Still, it’s hard for them to imagine what next year will bring. 

“I was thinking the other day, we sometimes go to lunch together and we were driving around, (and I thought) this is the last year we get to do that,” said Ruth. “It’s so weird.”

“We’re going to think about it later and think, there was a time when we only knew all being together,” said Skye. 

“The good thing is you always have two best friends, no matter what,” said Brendan. “We’re going to different colleges, but (we’ll) always stay in touch.”

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2019

@ZoeyMaraistACH