Twins go from preemies to top Edward Little scholars

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Identical twins Austin and Noah Dumont wear their Edward Little High School graduation gowns while holding the hospital wrist identification bands they wore in the Maine Medical Center neonatal intensive care unit when they were born. The twins weighed 3.3 pounds and 2.7 pounds, respectively, at birth.
Identical twins Austin Dumont, left, and Noah Dumont wear their Edward Little High School graduation gowns in front of their Auburn home. They are valedictorian and salutatorian, respectively, for the Class of 2017. Both are headed to Bates College in Lewiston in the fall.

AUBURN — When identical twins Austin and Noah Dumont, 18, were born, Noah weighed 2 pounds, 7.5 ounces; Austin weighed 3 pounds, 3 ounces.

Flash forward nearly 19 years — their birthday is the Fourth of July — the once-preemies are fine. More than fine.

The two are graduating Saturday from Edward Little High School as No. 1 (Austin) and No. 2 (Noah) in their class.

Growing up and starting school, the two were constantly confused.

“I was often called Noah,” Austin said. “Sometimes I let it go. Other times, I’d politely say, ‘I’m Austin.’”

Adults were apologetic.

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“I understand,” Noah said. “We’re both used to it.”

They said they didn’t play tricks on others misrepresenting that they were the other one. During an interview they came across as being too kind to pull such a prank.

Already the parents of three, Rene and Julia Dumont recalled finding out they had twins in 1998, just after the Ice Storm. They were at St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center, where Rene works in administration. She was having an ultrasound. During the procedure, the technician and doctor were laughing.

“This is inappropriate,” Rene said he thought at the time.

Then they heard the announcement: “There’s two.”

Julia was confused. “Two what? Two heads?” she had asked.

“Oh my God!” Rene said. “I said that for the next five months.”

The babies were born two months early and hospitalized for two months, first in Portland, then at St. Mary’s.

When they got home, they had to be woken every three hours to be fed. Rene and Julia took turns; one night one parent slept on the couch on feeding duty, and the other parent got to sleep.

It was exhausting, they both said, but they knew they could sleep the next night.

One time, Rene got into bed after feeding the twins, reporting to his wife they were fine.

“But I’m not sure if I put them back in the right spot,” he recalled saying. “I may have mixed them up. But it doesn’t matter.”

Julia sat up and said, “What do you mean, ‘It doesn’t matter’?”

“So we think that’s Austin and that’s Noah,” Rene mused.

Growing up, their personalities were different. The parents said they always knew who was who. Noah is a fan of the Red Sox and other sports teams. Austin is fascinated by politics. Austin and Noah say their personalities are more like each other than they are different.

As preschoolers and primary students, they had some challenges.

Born so small, it took time for them to catch up to the physical and developmental stages for their ages. They needed speech and language therapy. They were quiet.

They were smaller than most of their classmates. In kindergarten, some of the girls thought they were babies, two living dolls. The girls would carry Austin and Noah around, Julia said. The girls had to be told to put them down — they were students, not dolls.

Some years, the boys were in the same class. Other years, they were in separate classes.

They’re best friends and liked being together. But they wanted their teachers to see that they were different.

“I had my own interests, and Noah had his own interests,” Austin said.

When it was time to start high school, “I was very nervous,” Austin said.

It turned out high school was not as scary as he thought it would be.

“There are people there who are very nice,” he said. “It’s not difficult to start.”

Edward Little has mentors for freshmen students. When Noah and Austin were upperclassmen, they served as mentors to freshmen. They also volunteer as Big Brothers.

Their goals as starting high school students were to do well academically, to graduate in the Top 10, as did their siblings. Zach Dumont graduated in 2008 as valedictorian; Emily Dumont in 2010, fifth in her class. Connor Dumont graduated in 2012, third in his class.

“I remember that I wanted to be in the Top 10,” Noah said. “I worked very hard in school to get to this point. I’m happy I did that.”

The brothers and parents are excited about Saturday’s milestone. Both boys said they are nervous about giving speeches as valedictorian and salutatorian.

In their living room hangs a Bates College Class of 2021 banner. Both are going to Bates this fall. Their majors are undecided. Noah is interested in sociology; Austin, in political science.

The parents said they’ll be proud watching their sons, once so tiny and fragile, give speeches on the graduation stage.

What surpasses their academic achievement “is the fine young men they are,” Rene said. “It’s great when teachers say they’re doing well in school,” which happened because they used the abilities that God gave them, Rene said.

“But when they say your kid is the kind kid in the class, that’s what you want to hear as a parent,” he said.

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