Saturday, February 28, 2004

Cops pass hat for diploma


With fees paid, Taft grad aims for college

By Jane Prendergast
The Cincinnati Enquirer

WEST END - It's a small document in a small folder, but the 19-year-old looked at the diploma Friday as if it meant the start of the rest of his life.

Randy Parnell graduated from Taft High School last August. But he didn't have the $116 he owed in school fees, so he never got his diploma and couldn't get the transcripts he needs to apply to Cincinnati State Technical and Community College. He wants to be a physical education teacher or a personal trainer.

Parnell mentioned the fee problem to a Cincinnati police officer. That officer mentioned it to Officer Princess Davis, a West End officer who grew up in the neighborhood. She knew Parnell from seeing him shoot 3-pointers at the Findlay Street Neighborhood House.

Davis spread the word, and the $116 was raised - all from District 1 officers who didn't want their names mentioned.

Davis took the money to the school Friday and turned the diploma in its green cover over to Parnell. He kissed it.

"This is a good kid right here,'' Davis said, patting him on the back.

Parnell stood out at the neighborhood house. He never skipped appointments with emergency services coordinator Doris Hubbard or with employment and training specialist Tierney Hamilton. He not only showed up - something they don't even expect anymore of all adults, they said - but he always brought the right paperwork and could quickly name more life goals than the five Hubbard requested.

Now he's finishing up the Urban League's job-readiness program and is looking for a job.

He and Hamilton are finishing his financial aid application, and he hopes to enroll at Cincinnati State by summer.

"I really want to thank everyone for helping me out,'' Parnell said Friday. "I also want to thank my father, for raising me.''

E-mail jprendergast@enquirer.com




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