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A ‘Twilight’ experience

November 16, 2009

‘Twilight’ is only the beginning for Forks High School principal

“Twilight,” the bestselling teen vampire book series penned by author Stephanie Meyer and the subject of two major motion pictures, is set in the town of Forks, Wash. As a place that receives more rainfall than anywhere else in the nation, Forks is the perfect setting for vampires. It also is an ideal place for Kevin Rupprecht ’02, the current principal of Forks High School

“I came to Forks in August 2007, and it was really right before the popularity of ‘Twilight,’” Rupprecht said. “There was some publicity. But not a lot.” How times have changed. When Hollywood made “Twilight” into a film, Rupprecht said the town really played on the popularity.

“Forks embraced it,” Rupprecht said. In November, the sequel, “Twilight: New Moon,” was released in theaters, further boosting the town’s popularity.

Rupprecht said he never expected to live in such a small town, nor did he ever dream of becoming a principal just six years after graduating from PLU. But he said he is enjoying his new reality, and attributes much of his success to PLU.

“The relationships you make with people are astounding and valuable,” he said. “Some of my closest friends are from PLU.”

Rupprecht taught in the Clover Park School District for five years after graduating. His next stop was at the University of Washington-Tacoma, where he earned a master’s in education. Soon thereafter, he received a call from Forks, and the rest is history.

“To think that I became a high school principal before I’m 30 is a fairly decent accomplishment,” Rupprecht said.

Along with his wife Marianne and daughter Candace, Rupprecht characterizes his life as normal. Although, when Candace was born, some Forks residents strongly suggested that she be named after a character in “Twilight.”

The Rupprechts graciously declined, and instead chose part of their daughter’s name based on the climate of their new hometown.

“One day when we were driving around Lake Crescent,” Rupprecht explains, and “it was raining. So, her middle name is Rain, after a part of the Forks lifestyle.”

That Forks lifestyle has changed a bit in recent months, according to Rupprecht.

“Forks only used to see about 200 to 300 visitors per month,” he said. “Now, it’s around 2,000 per month.”

It’s commonplace these days to see visitors snapping photos next to landmarks from the film, including the Forks High School sign. Some fans even venture into the high school for closer looks.

“The fans are really polite and respect that this is a school,” Rupprecht said. “They just want something real to touch, to make their favorite books more real to them.”

Though Rupprecht has only read the first book in the series, he said working with the crew and director of the movie was exciting.

“‘Twilight’ mania is really a good way to connect with the students, and I’m glad for that,” Rupprecht said.