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Briston & Terri Long

Happenstance, Happy Meals, and a Haplocanthosaurus

By Nate Fisher

“People around here really look out for each other, especially when someone’s going through a rough time.”

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to sit in class next to your twin? Vandalia seniors Briston and Terri Long have had their curiosity satiated for the past 18 years in that department. “It’s fun,” Briston declares, eager to discuss his favorite and only sister: “If we argue, it’s no big deal, really.” Terri agrees with her brother and adds, “Our arguments? Mostly over dumb stuff. And it’s all good by the end of the day.”

Briston channels Marlon Brando from The Godfather with a shrug: “When we argue, it’s just basically family business.” When the severity of that business is who ate the last bowl of Reese’s Puffs that morning, chances are you’ll be over the disagreement by the end of the first period. Briston and Terri share ties that puffs simply cannot break.

Both siblings have worked at McDonald’s since they were 16, and they’re not rocking the golden arches solo. Beyond the twin connection, the kitchen at Mickey D’s can become rather familyoriented at times, as their mom and grandma also work there. “Mom said McDonald’s is a good starting point, and she’s there to help if we need it,” Terri says. They love their jobs and the atmosphere but do admit to becoming overwhelmed when the drive-thru really pops off. “We share a semi-hatred of work when things get busy,” Briston chuckles.

Mornings at the Long household during the school week are routine but bustling. Briston says he’s an early riser and is usually the “second one up” right after their dad. “First thing, I take our dog out. There’s nature. I relax.” he says, then gestures to Terri. “Also, gotta get this one up.” By the time he arrives at school, he’s willing and ready to enter the day, even if he may prefer that the world be a tad bit more prehistoric.

“One of my favorite things about school is learning stuff about our planet,” Briston tells us. “Prehistory, science, dinosaurs. I would love going to a museum if I could.” His fascination with these extinct terrestrial vertebrates has provoked Briston’s academic dream to study paleontology at the university level. Once he graduates, he says he’d like to attend college “anywhere science-y” to one day dig up dinosaur bones or otherwise consult media as an expert on the giant lizards. What can beat receiving a paycheck to talk about dinosaurs?

Terri is also an animal lover, but her species of choice are a little more domestic. This year, she’s most excited about her animal science class. “I plan on going to Kaskaskia College in the Fall and into the animal science program,” she explains. Her ideal future involves a career in veterinary science. If that doesn’t pan out, well, she carries a good tune! As part of the Vandalia High School choir, she’s warming up to perform at this year’s Olde Tyme Christmas celebration.

Speaking of local celebrations, both Briston and Terri agree that “growing up Vandalia’’ has its perks. For Briston, it’s the open field near their home—perfect for some archery. Terri enjoys the unconditional closeness of the community. “People around here really look out for each other, especially when someone’s going through a rough time,” she says. It’s an attitude she demonstrates every time she has Briston’s back, which is always. “I watch out for him because not everyone is nice, you know?” But that doesn’t mean she goes easy on him, especially in PE class. “If I get the ball, I’m taking him out like anyone else,” she laughs. It’s a devotion Briston doesn’t mind whatsoever. “I always support my big sister,” he says. Yup, she’s the older one by a whole minute!

These two are in it together, each with unique dreams, yet always rooting for the other. “I treat him like everyone else, and that’s how we like it,” Terri sums it up. Whether they’re flipping burgers or flipping through textbooks filled with veterinary medicine protocol and velociraptor trivia, Briston and Terri are prime examples of what family support should look like in our district.

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