Editor's Note: Newsday.com is catching up with former Long Island homecoming kings and queens to reflect on being named royalty and see what they're up to now. If you're a former Long Island high school homecoming king or queen and would like to participate, email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Jodi Kelsch reigned as East Islip High School’s homecoming queen in 1985. She received her tiara from a special guest at the ceremony -- the homecoming queen of 1965, Jane Palmese.
This was part of an East Islip tradition where the winner from 20 years earlier would attend the parade to bestow the crown on the new queen.
Kelsch remembered, “I talked briefly to her; there was a 20-year age difference so there was only so much we could talk about. But she congratulated me and was very gracious.”
Volleyball, basketball and softball consumed most of Kelsch’s time, in addition to working at a supermarket during her senior year. Winning such a prestigious title caught her off guard; in fact, she hadn’t even planned on attending the festivities.
“It was fun for all of us,” she said. “That evening they had a dance, and I wasn’t dating anybody so I wasn’t planning on going. So I asked one of the guys I worked with at the supermarket.”
Kelsch went on to SUNY Oswego, where she studied German. She lived in Germany and then London before returning to New York. Kelsch was diagnosed with fibromyalgia -- a disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain accompanied by fatigue, sleep, memory and mood issues, according to the Mayo Clinic website -- during these travels, and it led to a change in her life path.
“Twenty years ago nobody really knew what [fibromyalgia] was, I had a lot of chronic pain and so on,” she said. “I still have it, of course, but as I recovered, I found massage therapy really helped, so I went back to school to be massage therapist and that’s what I do now.”
Kelsch works at a historical bathhouse in Saratoga Springs, where people can opt for a healing mineral bath and receive a massage afterward. Her one regret about high school is not participating in more clubs. However, her daughter just entered ninth-grade, and she’s already settled into her niche.
“She’s in a bunch of clubs, she’s interested in politics, debate club and things like that,” she said. “She has her interests and really likes high school.”