Parker Fritz is one of those guys you just know is going places.
That’s why when the Kent City Community Schools Board of Education decided they wanted to mirror neighboring districts by having a student representative, they asked Parker. For the past two years since he accepted the invitation, school officials say Parker has been an invaluable member of the board, providing the unique insight only a student can offer.
“The board is interested in what he has to say because he brings a student perspective,” Superintendent Mike Weiler said. “He’s really given them some valuable input.”
Like a student telling a group of elected public officials that some of the hallways at Kent City High School needed new carpeting and lockers. That got done last year, said board President Bruce Hawley.
“Every month he has a couple of things that need our attention,” Hawley said. “He has a lot of maturity in the way he presents himself.”
While being frank with board members has become part of Parker’s routine at the district’s monthly school board meetings during the past two years, the 17-year-old senior concedes it wasn’t always his strong suit. Part of his reason for accepting the post was the opportunity to practice public speaking, a skill he’ll likely find useful in his planned career as a music educator.
“Our principal, Mr. Crane, asked me a couple of years ago at band camp if I was interested in that position and I said yes,” Parker recalled. “I thought it would be a great opportunity to practice speaking in front of an audience.
“At first, I wasn’t really that confident. It can be intimidating talking to a school board and sometimes an audience about certain topics, but I feel I’m getting better at it.”
At a recent school board meeting Parker rattled off like a pro his report about his school’s Quiz Bowl team and a hoped-for class in forensics, or public speaking, which could lead to a debate team. On the foreseeable horizon is starting classes next fall at Central Michigan University where he’s earned a full-tuition scholarship and plans to study music education.
“I’m going to be a band director, at the high school level to start, but I would like to move on to teach at the university level if I can,” Parker said. “I really like music and I like working with people. Music is something that I enjoy and I want to help other people enjoy it, too.”
Parker said he found his interest in music as a member of his school’s marching and jazz bands and by attending Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp for a number of years. His service on the school board has given him insight into his chosen field and experience serving on a board which he might also see in his future.
“It’s a great honor that they asked me to do that and I enjoy it because it gives me an opportunity to develop my public speaking,” Parker said. “Since I’m going into that field, it’s like having an inside look at public education and kind-of given me practice at being on boards.”