Unfunded Mandate, a band of Lakeland School District staff, are completing their fourth year of playing together. Lakeland Superintendent Dr. George Stone has been playing in school district bands for over thirty years, always donating every dollar earned to student scholarships or special school projects through the district education foundations. "We play classic rock covers and our catalog has grown now to a couple hundred songs so we never play the same show twice.". This past year the band played to large crowds at the Winery, Colonial Terrace, Yorktown Grange Fair, Town of Cortlandt Anniversary event, Piazza Roma, the Bean Runner, Murphy's and other district fundraisers sponsored by the Lakeland Education Foundation.
Prior to coming to Lakeland, Stone played with bands in Delaware including "Hindsight 20-20, No Directions, and Unaccountable." The bands played clubs in The Rehoboth Beach area including the Summer Concert Series at the downtown bandstand and the Baycenter in Dewey Beach.
"With full time jobs in education, this is more of a hobby for us, but we love playing and people really seem to like what we play. As a fund raising band you know we do it because we love the music." This year the band hopes to add a few originals to the song list.
Other members of the band include Troy Payson on bass who works as the Head Custodian at Walter Panas High School, Chris Cummings on lead guitar, who is an Assistant Principal at Walter Panas High School, Pat Riley on keyboards, who is the Music teacher at George Washington Elementary, Rob Bergmann, lead male vocalist who is the Principal at Lakeland Copper Beech Middle School, Liz Pezzulo, lead female vocalist who serves as the district's Early Childhood Education teacher at Walter Panas High School, and Terri Wilkowski, who sings backup vocals and is the district's Director of Humanities.
Payson started playing bass in 1990. He played with a band called "Gyst" from 1990 to 2011. Aside from Unfunded Mandate Payson plays a number of gigs throughout Westchester and the surrounding area with the band Axis. Troy has been with Lakeland for 15 years.
Chris Cummings has been playing professionally for many years as well. He majored in music education from Western Connecticut University and taught music education in Lakeland before becoming an administrator. Over the last ten years he has played guitar and bass with a number of acts in the tri-state area. While he has played with many talented people, he loves the fact that all of the proceeds from Unfunded Mandate go to helping kids.
Rob Bergmann, the lead vocalist,who many believe has an incredible voice and stage presence, never sang professionally. "I love to sing, and I love music, so this was a perfect opportunity to sing and have fun, and we play for a purpose. Everything we do helps kids." Bergmann has been with Lakeland for ten years, seven as a teacher and now three as assistant principal.
Liz Pezzulo grew up in a musical family. "A lot of my relatives were musicians, but before the band I only sang for talent shows, drama clubs, church choirs and a college group." her father and uncles played guitar and drums and her aunt was well versed in all instruments Pezzulo has been teaching for 15 years in special education and early childhood programs.
Pat Riley has performed in various shows and church functions but this is her first classic rock band gig. Her husband Kevin assists the band during shows and is one of their biggest fans.
"It's the love of music and giving back to our community that makes this so much fun. Given the hard work we do it also helps to balance our lives while our shows work to bring staff and community together," Stone noted. "Playing has always been fun, but this is the best band I have played with. We are all really enjoying it."