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Six sets of twins graduate from Our Lady of Mercy Academy

Twin graduates Elizabeth, left, and Rachel Tyler, 17,

Twin graduates Elizabeth, left, and Rachel Tyler, 17, of Our Lady of Mercy Academy attend commencement at Our Lady of Mercy Church in Hicksville. (June 2, 2012) Credit: Alexi Knock

Katie and Melissa Heller do almost everything together. From theater group to academics, the identical twins from Centerport have been almost inseparable during their four years at Our Lady of Mercy Academy.

But that will change in the fall. Katie will be attending the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania, and Melissa will be studying at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.

“It’s going to be really hard. I see her every day, we share a room,” said Katie, 18. “It’s definitely bittersweet.”

The separation will be especially difficult because the twins lost their father, Michael, when he had a heart attack in August, said Lindsay Heller, the girls’ mother.

“I told them not to worry about me and I’m delighted to see them go away for school,” Lindsay Heller said through tears. “They have a special bond especially after losing their dad, but this will give them the chance to not just be known as ‘the twins.’”

On Saturday, Katie and Melissa joined five other sets of twins at Our Lady of Mercy Church in Hicksville for their graduation ceremony.

Katie and Melissa are the only identical twins in the class going to separate universities.

“We’re not living in the same dorm,” said Casey and Molly Lynch, 17, of Bayville in perfect unison while discussing their plans to attend Tulane University together in the fall.

Many of the twins said they both just happened to like the same university.

“We both fell in love with it for different reasons,” said Elizabeth Tyler, 17, of Seaford, who will attend Hofstra University with her twin sister, Rachel.

Joan Gordon, co-principal of Our Lady of Mercy Academy who has worked for the school for 38 years, said she was impressed with the graduating class’ dedication to service.

“This is a very special and terrific group of young ladies,” Gordon said. “It’s easy to love them.”

The twins of Our Lady of Mercy Academy will be traveling to over half a dozen states to study both together and separately. The graduating class, which boasts 133 students, received $20.9 million in total scholarships from universities all over the country.

“We know what lessons we gave them and we’re proud to see the girls take our message all over the place,” said Gordon.

Katie Heller said she is both excited and nervous to live in a different bedroom from her sister for the very first time.

“I’ll probably be calling her every day and slowly wean myself off of it.”

Photo: Elizabeth Tyler, left, and her twin sister Rachel, graduates of Our Lady of Mercy Academy in Hicksville, will continue to attend the same school together, at Hofstra University. (June 2, 2012)

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