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Long Island students, staff encouraged to wear green in show of support for Farmingdale High School after deadly bus crash

Long Island unites in support of Farmingdale following deadly bus crash
Long Island unites in support of Farmingdale following deadly bus crash 02:23

FARMINGDALE, N.Y. -- There's new information on the injured survivors of last week's charter bus crash. 

Authorities said the five Farmingdale High School students who were listed in critical condition are improving. State police said Tuesday they've been downgraded to less critical care. 

The news came during a special and emotional show of solidarity on Long Island on Tuesday following last week's heartbreaking bus tragedy that left two educators dead. 

Students and staff at schools across Long Island are wearing green to support Farmingdale High School. It's a color that has always signified school spirit there. On Tuesday, though, the color meant so much more because it meant unity. 

"I think it's wonderful that Long Island is supporting its own," Farmingdale parent Alison Grassi said. "Gives me faith in humanity that we are all there for each other in our time of need." 

Farmingdale students poured into their high school proudly wearing green Tuesday, but were far from alone. Other schools, organizations and people all across Long Island were joining in, wearing green and were honorary "Dalers for a Day." Organizers also asked people to use the hashtags #DalerForADay and #DalerStrong.

The gesture even made it's way down south, to the Florida Southern Women's Lacrosse Team.

WFSD Music Department Dedicates Song to Farmingdale School Community by William Floyd on YouTube

The Board of Education for the Farmingdale district said in a letter Tuesday's gestures "mean so much to our grieving community and will help guide us along the long, arduous road to healing." 

Houses were decorated, and some streets were lined with green ribbon. They were all ways of showing everyone cares. 

"Coming together right now, you know, that's all you can do," Farmingdale mother Mary Quinn said. 

"Never lose hope in our ability to lean on each other as we move forward together," Farmingdale Schools Superintendent Paul Defendini said. 

"I think you're seeing the best of Farmingdale -- certainly last week, and you're seeing it again this week. That's Daler Strong," said New York State Sen. Steve Rhoads. 

The bus crash happened last week while students and chaperones were on their way to band camp. It sent multiple kids to the hospital, and two adults died. 

"It's a sad thing, of course, what happened. I guess we are just trying to get through it, really," senior Nick Grassi said. 

On Monday, there was an emotional wake for 77-year-old Beatrice Ferrari, a retired teacher who volunteered to be a chaperone on the trip.

The community has also been rallying behind the family of beloved band leader Gina Pellettiere, another victim of the crash. The high school will be closed Thursday so students and staff can attend her funeral.

Known affectionately as "Miss P," Pellettiere's home is down the street from the Massapequa funeral home. Amid welcome signs, her car adorned with a proud band insignia, neighbors and best friends continue to grieve for the 2-year-old son she left behind.

"Her son, Joseph, who she lived for, was the sweetest little thing you ever saw in your life," neighbor Ronald Branch said.

"She was always outside playing with him. They'd go for bike rides, teaching him to ride a scooter this summer, he learned to swim," friend Amanda Cerami said.

As a wake continued Tuesday for Ferrari, who was known as the "heart and soul of the band," New York State Police confirmed the charter bus driver, 59-year-old Lisa Schaffer, who lives in Centereach, was interviewed by the NTSB from a hospital over the weekend.

Recovery for the community will take time.

"We will be working closely with our music staff at Farmingdale High School to ensure that our students are ready, before we start making music again. With a lot of hugs, an overwhelming amount of love and support, we will be able to move forward and honor the memories of Bea and Gina," Defendini said.

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