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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Genesis Prep: Twins Lyndsey and Mary Meerdink tackle the hard work early

Lyndsey and Mary Meerdink will head to different schools next year. Lyndsey, left, plans to attend Grand Canyon University in Phoenix while Mary will go to North Idaho College.
By Azaria Podplesky For The Spokesman-Review

High school is usually when things get tough for students, but their time at Genesis Preparatory Academy was a relative breeze for twins Lyndsey and Mary Meerdink after the mountains they had to climb in childhood.

Lyndsey and Mary were born alongside three other siblings at 24 weeks and three days. Of the quintuplets, Lyndsey and Mary were the only two who survived infancy. Mary and Lyndsey, both born weighing just over a pound, spent three and four months in the NICU, respectively.

Angela Meerdink, Lyndsey and Mary’s mother, recalls watching their oxygen levels rise and fall countless times during their stay in the neonatal intensive care unit. The girls didn’t walk until they were 2 and had feeding tubes until they were 4. They both also underwent a fundoplication, a surgical procedure involving tying the stomach around the esophagus to help with acid reflux.

“Their early life pretty much revolved around feeding and therapies to get them to eat,” Meerdink said.

Though Lyndsey and Mary were born prematurely, their parents decided to keep them at their grade level in school instead of holding them back a year.

“They had a lot of catching up to do, but we felt like they did a good job,” Meerdink said. “By the time they got to high school, we felt like they had caught up.”

They’ve more than caught up, said Jessica Whaley, Genesis Prep’s director of student services and athletic director. Whaley taught both girls science their junior year and coached Lyndsey in basketball.

“They’re both very quiet girls but very studious,” she said. “They are very polite and respectful, they come in and do exactly what they’re supposed to do, engage well with their peers. … The type of students you don’t have to worry about.

“I think in general, both of them have grown in … confidence not only in their schoolwork but in who they are. I’m proud of them for that.”

In school, Lyndsey enjoys math and Bible study, while Mary likes government class. Outside of school, Lyndsey likes to mountain bike and take part in her church youth group, while Mary likes to spend time with friends and go to the gym. Both girls have jobs – Mary at Safeway and Lyndsey at Papa Murphy’s.

In the final month of school, Lyndsey and Mary are both looking back at standout moments from high school and looking ahead to future endeavors.

Lyndsey fondly recalls the high school camp Genesis Prep hosts at Camp Lutherhaven during which students and staff bond at the beginning of the year, while Mary remembers the times she got to spend with friends going off campus to get drinks at a nearby church.

Looking ahead to the end of the year, both girls are excited to earn certificates from Kootenai Technical Education Campus in Rathdrum alongside their high school diplomas. Lyndsey will be a certified nursing assistant, while Mary will earn a medical assistant certificate.

After high school, Lyndsey plans to attend Grand Canyon University in Phoenix to study nursing. She’s excited to go, but mom Angela has some anxiety about her being away from home.

“I know it’s going be tough, but I think it’ll be a really good opportunity for her,” she said.

Mary will stay closer to home, attending North Idaho College.

When asked what she plans to study, Mary said, “I’m not totally sure yet. Maybe ultrasound tech.”

Mary said she and Lyndsey feel good about being at separate colleges and likely will make plans to visit one another during breaks in the school year.

With their high school careers nearly at an end, Angela can’t help but think back to Lyndsey and Mary’s time in the NICU. She said she’s so proud of the girls, who she calls little miracles, and how far they’ve come.

“As a mom watching them from where they came from to where they are today, I couldn’t have ever asked for more,” she said. “I never thought in a million years they would turn out as well as they have; a huge answer to prayer, a huge blessing.”