As the students strode on to the stage, beaming in their black and red graduation gowns, the school administrator called out their names:
Brandon James McCaughey
Joel Steven McCaughey
Kelsey Ann McCaughey
And so it went seven times at Carlisle High School over the weekend.
The McCaugheys are the world’s first surviving set of septuplets. And on Sunday, they made headlines again when they all graduated from their Iowa high school.
“The community really rallied behind them when they were born and they’ve been a huge part of the community ever since. To see them all grow up and go into their different interests…it’s neat to see,” Bryce Amos, the Carlisle Community School District superintendent, told CNN.
In the spotlight
The McCaughey children first made news in 1997 when they were born.
Doctors worried some wouldn’t make it.
Multiples have higher health risks because of their likelihood to be born premature and at low birth weights.
They were placed on ventilators as nurses monitored their breathing and a community prayed.
Soon, each was strong enough to breathe on his or her own.
And their mother, Bobbi McCaughey, slipped quietly out of the hospital and walked unaided into the family home in Carlisle, a small town 10 miles from Des Moines.
Moving on and moving out
Eighteen years later, Carlisle is still home.
But not for long.
Later this summer, Brandon is joining the military, and Kenny is going into construction.
Indeed, they may be septuplets, but their interests are diverse, Amos says.
Some are into athletics and fine arts, and others into cheerleading and career tech.
Two of them, Kelsey and Natalie, are headed to college — to Missouri’s Hannibal-LaGrange University, which offered all of them scholarships all those years ago when they were born.