For identical twins Abbey and Caroline Haines, having a study partner so close in age was a boon to their grades and propelled them straight to the top of the China Spring High School graduating class of 2014.

Caroline will be honored as class valedictorian and Abbey as salutatorian Thursday. The normally shy young women each will give a commencement speech encouraging their fellow students to be better versions of themselves.

The twins said before it was announced they were fairly certain Caroline had secured valedictorian, but Abbey, who was born first by two minutes, said the salutatorian spot came as a surprise to her.

“There was another girl who I thought was going to be salutatorian and I was really happy for her, but when they announced the class ranks and they announced her as No. 3, I was pretty shocked,” Abbey said.

The 18-year-olds are petite blondes, with new friends identifying them by their haircuts: Caroline sporting a tight crop compared to Abbey’s shoulder-length waves.

Their parents — Kim and Tom Haines — said their daughters have broken all the molds.

The couple adopted the girls with only two weeks notice of receiving two babies instead of one.

Tom Haines served in the U.S. Air Force for 33 years, causing the family to move seven times after the girls arrived.

The twins were transferred to multiple schools, even being home-schooled in seventh and eighth grades and living in Germany for a time, before Tom Haines retired and they moved to China Spring.

But Abbey and Caroline’s intelligence was evident from the beginning.

“They’re fun-loving, but they’ve always been very dedicated. From, really, kindergarten, early on, they’ve wanted to do well. That’s what’s really cool. They never went after the

grades. They just wanted to learn,” Tom Haines said.

Kim and Tom Haines said they were careful not to pressure the girls about grades, but simply encourage their love for learning.

The twins play instruments in the high school band, Abbey on the clarinet and Caroline on flute.

They both enjoy science fiction and spend countless hours on the trampoline creating fictional worlds that they act out. They eventually want to write and publish a book.

They also enjoy science and math, Caroline winning honors as the school’s top math student for 2014.

“In calculus, it was just fun. I worked with some of my other friends . . . and we would work on all the calculus problems together and we would figure them out together, and it was lots of fun,” Caroline said. “I really enjoyed it when I could get the problems.”

China Spring High School teachers Sandra Anz and Fatima Cathcart said the young women excelled at everything they did.

Anz taught the twins English or literature for two years and said their comments were always insightful and well-articulated. They were quiet, but never had problems participating in a group.

Cathcart, who taught them Spanish for two years, said they were reserved, but extremely hard workers and she loved having both students in her class.

“Abbey and Caroline both work extremely hard. They’ve always worked very hard in every subject. They’re extremely motivated,” Cathcart said.

Abbey and Caroline both teach children’s Sunday school at University Baptist Church and have volunteered for highway clean-ups and teacher-appreciation projects. They also tutor in their spare time.

“They realize that they learn very easily. They have a gift,” Kim Haines said. “Therefore, (we tell them) ‘You are responsible for helping other people.’ That’s what they’ve been very good about is tutoring other people in physics and helping them in calculus.”

The twins were accepted into Baylor University and also will enter the Center for Astrophysics, Space Physics & Engineering Research program this summer, where Abbey will study astrophysics and astronomy and Caroline will study astrophysics and mechanical engineering. They aren’t quite sure what they want to do after college, but both declared physics majors.

There was never much competition between the them, they said. Their GPAs were extremely close, with Abbey at a 4.331 and Caroline at 4.428.

“She’s not really just my twin, she’s also my best friend at the same time. She’s a sister and a best friend, all in one,” Caroline said. “You don’t have to call when you want to see them, you just walk into the next room.”

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Top of the Class: The Tribune-Herald will present photos and small bios of the top area high school graduates in three installments on June 15, 22 and 29.

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