Doug brightens cafeteria with song

Doug OBrien, campus monitor has Happy Birthday sung to him for a change by Principal Dave Stephens.

Linda Hart

Doug O’Brien, campus monitor has “Happy Birthday” sung to him for a change by Principal Dave Stephens.

Hannah Darbro, Staff Writer

  “Happy Birthday” sounds through the cafeteria, a tradition started at Central by Campus Monitor Doug O’Brien. He is heard over the loud speaker almost every day. It’s his way to let students “stand up and be recognized.”

  “Doug cares about the students so much that I have went and gotten him while he was at lunch so he could come in and sing to a student,” Linda Hart, lunch supervisor said.

  Students feel that now it is his turn to be recognized.

  On O’Brien’s birthday, Principal Dave Stephens decided to sing to him.

  “Doug brings the warm, fun attitude to work that kids enjoy. He loves the school and the students, which is what makes him so valuable,” Stephens said.

  “He does it for everyone else, so it only seems right that we do it for him.”

  O’Brien graduated high school in Rhode Island in 1957 and said that one of his career aspirations was to play sports professionally. O’Brien participated in football, baseball and basketball during high school and hoped to make it a career in the future.

  Instead, O’Brien went on to West Virginia to attend Greenbriar Military School, the alma mater to many well-known alumni, such as restaurant founder Bob Evans.

  After one year at Greenbriar, O’Brien enrolled at the University of Kentucky where he played football for four years. His first job after getting his college diploma was teaching at a public high school in Louisville, Kentucky.

  In the summer O’Brien was hired at a private boy’s school as a PE instructor where he taught the first graders and coached them in some of the same sports he played as a high schooler.

  “I got my first sales job selling soap,” O’Brien said. O’Brien went to different major grocery stores while working for Colgate-Palmolive, the company most well known for their toothpaste brand.

  O’Brien and his wife also owned a White Hen Pantry on the corner of Rt. 59 and Rt. 126 for more than 20 years before it became a 7/11.

  “The big stores came in and swallowed up the business,” O’Brien said.

  O’Brien has two children who live locally and a daughter in Arkansas, and he has seven grandchildren altogether. When he’s not at work, he enjoys playing golf and working in the yard when the weather is warm.

  According to Bill Johnson, Chair of Social Studies and Creative Arts, O’Brien is also a dedicated Cubs fan. Even the long days on the job can’t keep him from missing the games, which frequently end late at night, so O’Brien takes a nap as soon as he gets home so he can stay up to watch the end of the game.

  On the job, O’Brien is a trusted employee. When security officer, Pete Inda, was hired two years ago, O’Brien was chosen to be his mentor even though Inda already had more than 30 years of experience in law enforcement.

  “I hope everyone continues to have a passion like Doug and share their life with young people,” Stephens said.