If you’re ever driving into Clark High School, you may be greeted by a tall man in uniform directing traffic with some of the goofiest dance moves you’ve ever seen and a big smile. To Clark High School, school resource Officer Art Parker is by far one of the most inspiring people ever to walk the campus, bringing with him joy, selfless acts of service and usually, balloon animals. May 14, 2016, Officer Art Parker was called to the Clark High School gym, where students, teachers and staff, upon his arrival, went from silence to thunderous cheering while the Clark fight song played. The whole school surprised him with a pep rally to celebrate him since he’s been named Plano Police Department’s 2015 Officer of the Year. With various civil servants and his family there with him, Officer Parker was honored by the students and faculty that he protects.
Officer Art Parker—or OP, as he’s fondly known on campus—is the first school resource officer ever to be honored with this award for exceptional service. Principal Janis Williams spoke at the rally, reading the letter which she had written to the Plano PD after hearing that Officer Parker had been nominated for Officer of the Year: “If we were to poll students at Clark High School on which adults they trusted the most on campus, I am confident that OP would be at the top of the list.” From the enthusiastic response from the students, including a performance by the Drill Team of Midnight Star’s “No Parking (On The Dance Floor),” this seems to be true. Principal Williams went on to say that “Officer Parker makes every effort to engage in meaningful conversation with students, staff and parents … He takes it upon himself to help and expects nothing in return. Serving others is simply Art Parker’s calling.”
Officer Parker’s face was a mix of shock and pleasure as the pep rally went on and many different staff members, police officers and students told amusing anecdotes of what he meant to them. The pep rally melded both the humor and lightheartedness that OP is known for bringing to Clark, and great respect for his years of dedicated service. Following the playing of the fight song, and a reading of “My Name is Old Glory” by Howard Schnauber, JROTC awarded Officer Parker with something truly special: the American Flag that had flown above Clark High School last year before being replaced, now gifted to Officer Parker.
His supervisor, Sergeant Paul, called OP “the real deal” and showed off some of the dance moves/traffic direction skills he’d learned from Officer Parker. This became a running theme in the pep rally, along with his tendency to sheer students up by playing the harmonica, performing his own raps and making balloon animals—he’s even made a catalog so students can order the animals of their choosing from him ahead of time.
The theater students put on a skit called “How to be like OP 101,” demonstrating the many ways OP has become a role model to the students and showcasing his skills and dance moves, in the end concluding that Officer Parker had no substitutes, and asked him to come up and dance with them, which he did with a huge grin. Cheerleaders had their own cheer for him, and together with the drill team, led a dance of their own creation, “Do the OP,” which he joined again.
It’s clear from just one hour of watching OP interact with students that he goes above and beyond every day to better the community, and to get to know every student, teacher and staff member he crosses paths with. Congratulations to Officer Art Parker, Plano PD’s 2015 Officer of the Year.