Parker is no stranger to student leadership, having served as the President of the Class of 2024 for two years. During his freshman year in the COVID pandemic, Parker spent the first term entirely online, yet he won a representative spot for his sophomore year without knowing many students on campus. The following year, Parker became Class President and led class trips, homecomings, Connecticut Food Bank fundraising, and many more grade-wide bonding experiences.
As an influence, Parker cites former StuCo President Ella Zuse ’21. Says Parker, “What motivated me was first seeing the passion and drive that she [Zuse] showed while she was president during my freshman year, especially while being online during COVID.” Parker noted StuCo’s day-to-day involvement as an inspiration: “I saw how much the student body can interact with the faculty and influence the stuff that goes on day to day. So, I wanted to be a part of that and make it as good as it can be.”
In his campaign, Parker eschewed promises. He began his assembly speech by outlining what he called his “3P” program: “Persistence, Patience, and Planning” – alliteration that was replicated in his slogan “Pres 4 Pres.” Parker identifies “persistence” as particularly important in the role of StuCo president: “We don’t reach out to the student body enough [now], but even if we do and we hear the input, a lot of it is not actually put into place because either it gets shut down immediately or people just give up…Next year, I want to see if we can take those ideas, try to implement them, and keep coming back and back until they [get passed].” Assistant Head of School John Roberts emphasizes the need for follow-through in a StuCo president: “You have an idea, something that is great for the class, but getting to execution takes a lot of work and there are a lot of obvious hurdles. So when we started meeting with Preston, we overcame one hurdle at a time, as a group. I’ve seen him go from ‘I have this wild idea’ to success.”
In regard to “patience,” Parker wants to maximize the potential of dances, class trips, and other events so that they are enjoyable for everyone: “A lot of the stuff that gets planned throughout the year is lackluster because we don’t take the time to get it right,” Parker says. “We are all very busy and we don’t need more events in our schedule. I want to keep the same events but just make them better as a whole.”
As for “Planning,” Parker recognizes the efforts of outgoing StuCo President Joy Xu ’23. “I want to continue her approach to planning things and her diligence in Student Council meetings.” Parker notes that transparency will be a point of focus in these plans: “There’s not much transparency with StuCo right now… People don’t realize that anybody can come to the meetings and share their ideas and nobody really does it. I want to create much more transparency about what [StuCo] is doing and maybe even record our meetings.” For his part, Roberts sees a connection between transparency and student involvement in campus decision-making. Although, according to Roberts, the president has “unlimited opportunity to talk to us, I almost wish that [all of StuCo] had more opportunities to weigh in.” Says Roberts, “I hope we can use them more to weigh in on all kinds of ideas about calendar, schedule, changing AP exams, etc.”
Roberts is excited to work with Parker and to see what he can accomplish, but also acknowledges that Parker has “big shoes to fill” after he witnessed Xu’s “ability to connect with people, to communicate, to bring energy and yet also a calming presence.” However, Roberts is excited to see Parker succeed as he has in the previous years as Class President: “We started meeting with Preston [about a class trip], we overcame one hurdle at a time, as a group. I’ve seen him go from ‘I have this wild idea’ to success.” Roberts then went on to say, “It’s good for the class, and therefore good for the school, to have a rising senior class that feels happy, together, connected, and it’s a foundation for which you guys can build. And that is something that [Parker] plays a big role in.”
Xu notes that while she has worked on building a strong community, there is still work to be done. Says Xu, “We hope that, throughout the year, we’ve helped build a community where students can feel at home. We [should] focus on building and strengthening the relationships that hold our community together.” Xu also emphasizes the need to “listen to all the voices in our community — all the students, regardless of age, the faculty, staff, parents, and more. You are the representative of the student body, and it is crucial for you to understand, first, what the students are feeling, and, second, how we fit in with the wider Hopkins community.” Parker plans to do so, as he is excited to “make the school year as stress-free as possible and make this next year enjoyable for everyone.”