The Farmingdale High School band involved in the crash that killed band director Gina Pellettiere, 43, and chaperone Beatrice Ferrari, 77, plans to return to the field next Friday for the football team's homecoming game against Baldwin, according to athletic director Jeanne Berkoski.
Berkoski said superintendent Paul Defendini spoke with the band after the accident, and that the band said it wanted to return and play at the home football games. Students who were on the bus that crashed will be among the performers next week, Berkoski said.
“There is a feeling among them that Gina would have wanted the band to continue,” Berkoski said.
Pellettiere was laid to rest on Thursday after her funeral at Our Lady of Lourdes Roman Catholic Church in Massapequa Park, which drew about 1,000 mourners.
The Dalers play on Saturday at Port Washington at 2 p.m. It is the school's first football game since the crash. Next Friday is the school's pep rally at 5 p.m. followed by the homecoming game at 6:30 p.m. Berkoski said the event will play a meaningful role for the students, band and football team.
“That’s going to be the moment,” she said. “The pep rallies are always standing room only and that day’s going to be the first big thing. The superintendent wants us to get back to normalcy as much as we can and hopefully that will be a part of it."
Berkoski said the band will be led by interim band directors Matt DeBasi and David Abrams, both of whom were on the band's trip.
Longtime football coach Buddy Krumenacker, in his 31st season, said many of the football players are part of the music program and have been directly affected by the tragedy.
“We’ve felt it because the band program in Farmingdale is extremely big here,” he said. “We’ve got guys on the team that are in the band [after football season]. All our guys know that the band and the fans are always there to support them."
Krumenacker and Berkoski said the hope is the team can help the community in the grieving process.
"That is the thinking as we strive to get back to semi-normal,” Berkoski said. “Football games already bring the community together: students, parents of the football players, parents of the band members, fans. Having that again could help everyone in the grieving process.”
The football team will be wearing a decal on its helmets to honor those affected by the crash that features the school logo — an ‘F’ on a green shield — and is encircled with musical notes and a clef.
“I can’t predict how the team getting back to football will help, but I hope it does,” Krumenacker said.
The team's game against Freeport last Friday, a day after the crash, was postponed.