Superintendent’s Spotlight: Colleen O’Brien

Senior organized a fund raiser to pursue her friend's dream for a skateboard park in Greenwood Lake

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  • 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 fund-raising 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

Each week, “The Superintendent Spotlight” will shine a light on one of the Warwick Valley School District’s students.

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