BRAD KLOPPENBURG ADMITTED it doesn’t feel like it’s been over 20 years since he was a student at Simon Sanchez High School. He said with a grin, “I still think the same; I'm still into the same things. The years really haven't changed me that much.”
Brad graduated from the Yigo school in 1995. He is now a vice president at the company his grandfather started in 1969, Kloppenburg Enterprises Inc.
He recalled the impressions his teachers made on him. “I remember them all, but two of them have unfortunately since passed away. Mr. Pritchard was my English teacher in 11th grade. Mr. Mann was my Math teacher, Algebra. Even though I didn't like Math, I liked him in 10th grade.”
Among academics, he enjoyed History classes the best, but his heart was definitely in the gym. To date, his most memorable teachers are still teaching physical education at Sanchez—athletics director Mr. Randy Kakigi and football coach Mr. James Naholowaa.
“They were just a lot of fun. It's PE, so you're not at a desk listening to lectures. I was into sports, and they always like to talk sports and stuff,” Brad recalled.
He added that the best memories are those of friends and teammates. “We had a close group of really active students all the way through, so there was always projects and after-school things. And of course playing interscholastic sports. I really enjoyed that, going to the fareast tournaments every year.”
Brad went off to college, but continued to work summers at Turtle Tours, just as he had all through high school. He recalled, “I did bus washing. I helped out in maintenance, you know, changing tires, and [in] parts inventory. Stuff like that. Going out on supply runs…different odd jobs.”
Were summers working in the family business fun? He laughed. “Meh. I’d rather be at home taking a nap or something.”
When it came time to decide on a career after graduation, Brad wasn’t sure what the future held. “I kind of, in the back of my mind, knew that I would go into the family business, the company my grandfather started—my dad is obviously still working here with his brothers… so I kind of figured that would eventually be part of my working career,” he recalled.
For class reunions, Brad always makes time to attend. “I still have my letterman's jacket, cap and gown, and class ring,” he said. “I actually wore my class ring for my 20-year reunion. It still fit. I think that's the first time I've worn it since graduation.”
He keeps in touch with friends from his teenage years. “Not as often as I'd like. There are some of them I run into every now and then; some of them are still on island. And of course, on Facebook and stuff. Actually, some of them teach at Simon Sanchez now,” Brad said.
How about a 25th celebration? Brad laughed. “It seems kind of quick. We just had our 20th and we're just two years removed from that… maybe wait for the 30th year.”
Though the years have sped by, Brad said he’s still the same guy. “I’d like to think that I haven't really changed that much. I mean, other than the years. I have a family now. You know life gets slower, I guess. But other than that, I don't feel very different,” he added.
“I still like to take naps when I can. Actually, I was a big napper when I was in high school. I would come home, especially during the off-season when I didn't have sports, I would come home and take a nap, and then get up and go out and play pick-up basketball. Unfortunately, now with kids and work, it's hard to do that,” Brad expressed.
“I’d like to think that I haven't really changed that much. I mean, other than the years. I have a family now. You know life gets slower, I guess. But other than that, I don't feel very different.”
Back in high school, Brad was in the Spanish Club, the Letterman’s Club, and played basketball. He said those years were a good time. And he’s there in the yearbook, voted as most likely to…something.
Brad broke out in laughter and said, “I was…I can't remember what it was, to be honest. But yeah, I was in one of those superlative things. Yeah, that's a good question, I'll have to look that up.”
He grew serious though. “I didn’t think I’d come back as soon as I did after college. But I did, and I've been here now almost 20 years, full-time,” he said.
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