NEENAH (NBC 26) — While most children were playing video games in their rooms, this Neenah high school senior was reading history books.
“Hi, I'm Parker De Deker. I'm a current student at Neenah High School. I've grown up in Neenah all my life and I'm super involved in politics in our community.”
A one-page resume might be a problem for Parker.
“I'm currently our student body president at Neenah, I have also served on our school board of education for the past four years, I serve as the Youth Outreach and Communications Director for the Northeast Wisconsin American Civil Liberties Union,” said De Deker.
Now, he’s been chosen as one of two students from Wisconsin to be a part of the senate youth program.
“We're going to be the next generation of our country's leaders. So getting to go with these like-minded people and getting to network and really talk about what issues are important to us really getting to create that lens of what political issues are most important to Generation Z,” said De Deker.
Parker credits some of his success to the teachers that have made an impact on him along the way. Including Mrs. H.K., his sophomore-year English teacher who says Parker made an impact on her as well.
“I get teary-eyed when I think about some of the frustrations and the injustices that Parker and other students have had to face in recent years. The fact that someone like Parker can notice and educate and grow and lead the way I think really speaks to those pessimists out there who wonder about the future,” said Jennifer Heidl-Knobloch (Mrs. H.K.), Parker’s former teacher.
In Mrs. H.K.’s words, if we have people like Parker leading the way, we’re going to be okay.
“I want to open the door for younger people to show them that it's possible as a young person to be this politically involved. But I don't want to shut the door behind me,” said De Deker.
Parker has had his life plans nailed down since the 6th grade.
“My friends have always joked; Parker for President 2040. I haven't ruled it out, but I definitely want to go into public office and continue serving people,” said De Deker. The senate youth program is a step along the way. “And hey, if 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is in the cards, then I'm all ears.”
In a statement, Senator Baldwin told NBC 26, “I look forward to meeting with both our student delegates next week and am confident they will make Wisconsin proud!”
Parker will join his fellow delegates for Washington Week on March 4th.