GRADUATION 2023: Twin connection will be about 30 miles apart in college

Having one child leaving the nest is hard enough, but what is it like to have a pair of graduates?

Kyla Wheeler is facing that as son Lucas and daughter Alydia graduate from West Stanly High School and prepare for their next chapters in college.

“It’s definitely really hard to have two at the same time, but I also feel very lucky and special in that they get to continue going on and do what they want to do,” Kyla Wheeler said.

Kyla has worked the majority of their school years as a labor and delivery nurse at night. She said her children tease her about all the Facebook posts she makes about their accomplishments, but she said she does so because of how proud she is of them for being so successful growing up in the situation they did.

“They’ve had to work really hard for everything they’ve got because I was a single parent,” she said.

Twins run in Kyla’s family.

“My dad is a twin and his twin brother has twin girls and my mom’s dad was also a twin,” she said.

Kyla’s twins, who turned 18 in May, have naturally been close since birth and their pathways in high school have been similar as well.

They both said how they like being a twin and how that helped them during their high school careers, ones that were unlike most previous ones due the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I think it opened up experiences,” Alydia said. “Now online meeting is something easy to do.

“I was way behind during COVID so I had to work really hard to get back up. I do feel like the online meetings helped me.”

Lucas expressed how life is so different than it was his freshman year.

“You kind of see the world in a new perspective,” he said, of “how you do in school and how you actually do in life. It puts you in another grown-up mentality.”

Like Alydia, Lucas said online meetings opened him up to new ways to approach learning.

“It’s a whole new way to do things,” he said. “You have to take a lot of initiative to complete school.”

Both students were also dually enrolled at Stanly Early College.

“They offer more classes there so I could take Spanish through the college, sociology and psychology. I thought that was pretty fun,” Alydia said.

Lucas Wheeler and his sister Alydia were 2023 graduates of West Stanly. (Contributed)

“After going through quarantine, COVID classes and everything, it made it easier to adapt to dual enrollment classes,” Lucas added.

He credits former West Stanly computer and business teacher John Thompson for getting him interested in his chosen career path.

Lucas will attend Guilford College in Greensboro in the fall. He plans to major in computer science with the goal of designing video games.

“Mr. T helped me find that passion and not only was he a great teacher to me, but they were those classes that I loved to do.”

Lucas sees with things becoming more digital it will allow him more opportunities for job openings.

“People are starting to work from home more and it’s opening up a whole new pathway,” he said.

While studying computers will be his focus, he also gets to continue his love of soccer by playing for the Guilford team.

Lucas was a starter for West Stanly for all four years and made All-State his senior year. He also played club soccer for Charlotte Soccer Academy since 8th grade.

While he’s at Guilford, Alydia will be less than 30 miles away from him at Elon University.

“They were really happy about that because they’ve never been apart like that before,” Kyla said.

After taking 11 years of classes at Albemarle Academy of Dance, Alydia will double major in biology and dance. She hopes to go to veterinary school.

“I just love animals,” she said. “I’ve always had mostly cats growing up. I just wanted more and more animals. If an animal dies in a movie I’m done. I’m over it.”

But dance will still be part of her life. She has studied ballet, jazz, hip hop, tumble and modern dance.

“I like that it’s an art so you can perform for people and make them enjoy what you’re doing,” she said.

Knowing what each other is doing is instinctive for the twins.

“We always know what’s going on with each other so I don’t have to ask,” Alydia said. “We have some of the same friends. We both get invited to things. It’s like a friend that I’ve always had. I can tell when something’s wrong with him.”

“I know no matter what we do in life we’ll be doing it at the same time,” Lucas added. “You always have that friend in your corner.

“When something is bothering her, I know she knows she can talk to me.”

And he knows that “she would have my best interest at heart.”