“We’re basically polar opposites in every respect,” Julia Lanzillotta said frankly about she and her twin sister, Caroline, who were born one minute apart.
Yet the two have worked in tandem in student leadership roles throughout their nearly four years at South Side High School.
Julia and Caroline, president and vice president of the senior class, respectively, have represented their grades in those roles since being elected at the end of eighth grade. They have run unopposed in each election since.
Involved in South Side Middle School’s student council from sixth grade, the sisters both had ambitions to run for vice president in the spring before entering high school.
“Caroline being Caroline was like, ‘Okay, well I’m running for vice president and if you want to run against me, that’s all right,” Julia said. Not wanting to challenge her sister, she instead ran for president. A few weeks after giving speeches to their classmates, the results came in, and the two had learned they had both won.
“We hugged each other on stage,” Julia said, “and it was kind of like, ‘Wow, we’re 13 years old and we just did that.’”
One of their most significant responsibilities is heading the festivities that lead up to Homecoming each year, which includes the construction of a float and the painting of a mural — the seniors’ theme this year was Chinese New Year — and organizing the competitive events between the classes. The sisters were also tasked with choosing a venue for the senior prom in June.
Though student politics is their common ground, the two split paths athletically in middle school, finding their form in different sports. This spring, Julia, a sprinter, will run in her 10th track season, as she has competed on the cross-country, winter and spring track teams throughout high school. Caroline meanwhile is coming off a Nassau County A volleyball championship, returning from injury after breaking her foot the month before to help her team defeat No. 1-seeded Manhasset in November.
Caroline, a right-side and middle hitter who also served as a key blocker for the Lady Cyclones, was cut from the middle school volleyball team, she said, and later “rode the bench” on junior varsity.
But she earned a spot on the varsity squad as a sophomore, getting a chance to play when a girl at her position sprained her ankle. Around that time, Caroline also began playing for Hofstra University-based Cali Club Ace Long Island outside of school, which she said made her a more well-rounded player.
She was named Section VIII’s Player of the Year this year, she said, earning third-team All-State honors.
Before the title match, Caroline recalled, Julia, knowing her sister plays better when she’s angry, helped her get in the right mindset. That sisterly therapy goes beyond preparing for sports.
“It helps because whenever I’m having a problem, she’s very level-headed and she’s the one that can talk me down,” Caroline said. “You’re not going to your mom, you’re not going to your dad, you’re not going to your best friend. It’s like closer than a sibling. I don’t know how to explain it, but she just gets what I mean.”
Though a volleyball star, Caroline said she tried winter track for a week, during which Julia “blew me out of the water.”
Julia describes herself as the introvert, while Caroline is the outgoing, enthusiastic one. “They have very different personalities, but they’re both very determined,” their father, Louis, said. “When they decide to do something, they do it with all their energy and it’s just fun to watch them.”
Julia likes writing, while Caroline excels in math and science, their mother, Kim, told the Herald. “Caroline will figure things out and then Julia will find out how to say it,” Kim said. “So together, they concoct proposals…to try to get things out of me.”
Julia laughed, “We always say that if we were combined, we would be the superhuman, because my strengths make up for her weaknesses and vice versa. I think that’s the reason that we work so well together.”
As Caroline and Julia enter the homestretch of their South Side High School careers together, they don’t plan on going to the same college. Caroline is looking at schools such as Fairfield and Villanova, while also considering playing Division III volleyball at Misericordia University in Pennsylvania or Salve Regina University in Rhode Island. Julia listed Boston College and Fordham University, in the Bronx, as possibilities.
The two admit it will be quite an adjustment to part ways for college.
“There’s going to be a lot of late-night phone calls,” Caroline said. “I think it’ll be good to be apart for a little, but I don’t think either of us are going to last that long.”