“I kept hoping someone would wake me up and tell me it was only a bad dream.”

Just days after the Thursday, Sept. 21 Farmingdale High School bus crash that killed two adults and injured dozens of students, Greg Warno is still at a loss for words.

Warno, who works for the Farmingdale School District as the Director of Fine & Performing Arts, reflected on the “nightmarish” losses of Gina Pelletiere, the school’s band director, and Beatrice Ferrari, a longtime chaperone for the band, in a Facebook post.

“Thursday morning started as one of the happiest days I’ve experienced yet as District Music Director as Gina came out to the buses proudly wearing her FHS marching band hat and holding the marching baton, as she did every year before the trip to band camp,” he wrote.

Pelletiere had an infectious passion for her work that spread to colleagues and students, Warno wrote, while Ferrari, whom they lovingly dubbed “Band Grandma,” who chaperoned the yearly band camp trip for 30 years, was “one of the sweetest ladies I ever met.”

“There are no words to describe the profound loss,” Warno said.

Throughout Farmingdale and beyond, the tragedy of the crash reminded many how important community is.

And the community has shown up in Farmingdale’s time of need.

On Tuesday, Sept. 26, the day of Pelletiere’s funeral and just one day before Ferraris’, schools across Long Island encouraged their students to wear green in support of Farmingdale High School.

Along with it being the school’s color, “green represents hope, growth, and renewal,” wrote the Malverne Unified School District on the platform X (formerly Twitter).

“By wearing it, we can stand together with Farmingdale as they navigate this difficult chapter.”

The school districts for Garden City, Wantagh, East Rockaway, East Williston, Oyster Bay-East Norwich, and many more have issued similar recommendations to their students in hopes that the show of unity may aid in Famingdale’s “healing and renewal,” as the Westbury Union Free School District wrote.

Other community members are raising money for the victims.

Long Islander Nick Tangorra, who launched a GoFundMe for victims the day the crash occurred, expressed how the “gut-wrenching” news of the crash hit him hard as a former high school musician.

“I wanted to help,” he wrote in the description for the fundraiser, which has raised over $33,000 in the first four days to go towards the medical expenses of the victims, including the five students critically injured and dozens of other teens hurt. 

Along with donations, many left notes expressing similar sentiments, whether they were involved in the Farmingdale community or not.

“My friend…is an alumni of Farmingdale High School,” wrote donor Patricia Turner. “My sympathies and prayers for those families impacted by this crash.”

Another wrote that they had been a student of Pelletiere, who inspired him to eventually become a music teacher himself.

Others were fellow Long Island band directors, Farmingdale High School alumni, or current students. Others still donated as music lovers, with one donor simply leaving a Hans Christian Anderson quote: 

“Where words fail, music speaks.”

Pelletiere’s funeral is scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 26 at the Massapequa Funeral Home, South Chapel. For more information, click here.

Ferrari’s funeral is scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 27 at St. Killian Parish in Farmingdale. For more information, click here.

If you wish to donate to the GoFundMe, click here

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