When Kevin Rupprecht, '06, accepted the job of principal at Forks High School, he didn't realize he was signing on to be a minor celebrity as well. A master's degree recipient from UW Tacoma, Rupprecht thought he was simply moving to a small, remote, rainy town on the Olympic Peninsula.
And Forks is all of those things, which is why author Stephenie Meyer chose it as the gloomy backdrop for her 2005 young-adult vampire novel Twilight. The Harry Potter-esque popularity of the book, its sequels and the inevitable blockbuster movie have turned the town-and the high school, where much of the story’s action takes place-into a tourist destination, and Rupprecht into an informal tour guide. He spoke about it over the phone with Columns Co-Editor Eric McHenry.
Are people visiting the school on a daily basis in large numbers?
Pretty much. We’ll walk out onto the street and see them standing in front of our building, taking pictures by the sign. And you can pretty much count on a large number of fans coming during breaks. Spring break was huge last year. And because it’s staggered when different schools around the country take their breaks, we had it for about two months solid-just an astronomical number of people coming by, taking pictures and walking through the school.
During the summer, there are people every single day. School’s not in session, obviously, but there’s still some staff around, and they come up and knock on the door, and we let them in and say hi and show them around. Last year, the city dedicated Sept. 13 as Stephenie Meyer Day, and we opened up the school for Twilight tours. And we had hundreds of people coming to the building that day.
It must be fun to get on an airplane, get to talking to somebody, and tell them that you’re the principal of Forks High School. You must get interesting reactions.
This past summer, coming back into SeaTac from a conference, I got off the plane wearing my Forks High School Spartans football shirt, and this kid comes up and says, “Do you work at Forks High School?” And pretty soon I’ve got a crowd of a dozen kids around me, asking about the school. Later on I was at a meeting with a bunch of principals, and one of them found out where I was from. She came back to me the next day and said, “My daughter asked me to get your autograph.”
Is there a single kid in Forks who hasn’t read the books? I’d imagine they’re pretty much required reading.
Well, quite honestly, our students think it’s cool that our town gets publicity. But at the same time they ask the question, “Why us?” And I think it’s because for them, this is their town, this is their home, and they can’t quite understand what all the fuss is about. For people who live outside of Forks, the novelty is that they can actually come and visit a tangible place. It’s real. But Forks just isn’t that novel when you’ve lived here all your life.