By Warwick Valley Central School District Superintendent Dr. David Leach
Each day, about 3,500 of students come to school here at Warwick Valley, and each and every one of them is extraordinary. They volunteer and they create; they overcome obstacles and face their fears, they take on challenges and they are kind. Quite simply, they make me proud.
That’s why I’m excited to debut the Warwick Valley Central School District “Superintendent’s Spotlight,” where each week we’ll recognize a Warwick Valley student who has done something special. And I know that there are so many wonderful students here in our schools that sharing all of their stories may be an impossible task, but we’re going to try.
“Superintendent’s Spotlight” will shine a light on students who reach goals, win awards, and take on tough projects; students who have raised money for worthy causes, created an exceptional piece of artwork, or been caught in a random act of kindness. From our youngest pre-kindergarteners to our high school seniors, Warwick Valley students are an amazing group of people, and I can’t wait to tell you about them.
Superintendent’s Spotlight: Senior Colleen O’Brien
Warwick Valley High School senior Colleen O’Brien fully expected that she and Dale Hirrel would become the best of friends. He was new to Warwick Valley High School and had been a student there for only a few months, but she could tell that they were kindreds.
“He was really outgoing. He wasn’t afraid to be himself,” said Colleen. “We were just becoming friends, but we didn’t have the opportunity to solidify our friendship.”
Dale, a sophomore who loved skateboarding, died suddenly in 2016. His dream, said Colleen, was to one day build a skateboard park in his hometown of Greenwood Lake. Colleen admits she didn’t know very much about skateboarding and even less about skateboard parks. But she does know about music.
Her talents lie behind the scenes – planning and producing concerts, artist management, and promotion – and after graduation she’s headed toward a career in the music industry. She knew she could help her friend’s dream become a reality. So Colleen got to work, planning a fundraising concert that would get the skateboard park off to a great start. She reached out to local musicians, secured permits, and she received help from friends. It was the first time she planned such a big event from the ground up.
“There were a lot of things in the way,” Colleen said, adding, “I learned a lot.”
And this summer, on an August night, the Do It For Dale Concert was held at Thomas P. Morahan Waterfront Park, raising $7,000. In all, 11 musical acts performed. Food, commemorative T-shirts, bumper stickers, and bracelets were sold. Music filled the evening, and strands of tiny lights twinkled in the summer darkness, and later, floating lanterns were released into the sky.
“I think Dale would have liked it,” said Colleen.
For more information about efforts to build the Greenwood Lake Skateboard Park or to make a donation, visit www.gwlskatepark.com.