BELLE CHASSE – A high school freshman and HOSA member will be packing his bags and heading to Washington, D.C. for the presidential inauguration. It's a dream come true for a teenager, who has known since grammar school, that he wants to run for public office. You may not know who Peyton Pipher, 14, is, but give him time. Since fifth grade, he's had a passion for leadership, politics and the news.
"I've always wanted to help other people out and I've always had a passion for public speaking," said Pipher.
Clever campaigns got him elected to president of just about every club and school office he ran for, along with straight As in the gifted program, running track and being the Belle Chasse Middle School mascot. He wrote and published a novel at the age of 11, and was elected a leader in a national service, leadership and academic organization. To be a National Junior Beta Reporter, he had to speak several times, in several states in front of crowds as big as 12,000 people.
Now, the thrill of his life. A teacher at Belle Chasse High School, Daina Hotard, secretly nominated him to go to D.C. this week for the Envision Presidential Leadership Summit. He won. He will join 2,500 teens from 30 countries.
"We have kids from every political view, from every ethnic group, everything you can think of. And they actually sent out an email that was heartwarming. It said, 'Remember we're all human beings and that we're coming to this to work together, to collaborate. Put your political differences aside and let's have a good experience," Pipher said.
Speakers span from the youngest-ever Nobel Prize winner Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani female education activist, to Spike Lee, General Colin Powell, Carly Fiorina, and gold medal soccer player Abby Wambach. He's reading all of their books, just in case he talks to them. He joined the summit committee to write new policy for health care because it affects so many people's lives.
His highlight will be going to the inauguration. "I wanted to wear a suit. Me, I always want to dress my best, but they said to wear casual. I'm still debating on whether or not I want to wear my suit or casual clothes," said Pipher, who says regardless of what he wears it will be patriotic with red, white and blue.
So who was Peyton's inspiration for this path? A TV show that came out long before he was born. It was 'The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air' reruns on Nick at Nite.
"The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, I just like how outgoing he is, his comedy, how he uses comedy to help people. And I feel like that's a way I can do. He always has a smile on his face and I feel like if we all have a smile on our face, we can bring real good into this world."
Peyton will get to go to one of the inaugural balls set for those at the summit. He said that if Mr. Trump shows up at his, he will be elated.
"That would definitely make the experience 100 times better than it already is."
If the policy on health care that his group is writing, wins, it will be presented to the Congress and President Trump.