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.
Tammy Baiko recently sat down to reflect on her reign as Wantagh High School homecoming queen on the first day of her new job at Flushing High School in Queens.
A lot has happened in between, but she still remembers the finer details of her special day.
Earning the royal title in 1997 was a surprise to Baiko, but she has theories how it happened. As captain of the swim team, a member of drama club, senior class vice president, and a musician in both jazz band and vocal jazz, she believes the votes from her friends in all of these groups led to her victory.
“We joked that all the other chicks lost because they split the vote amongst themselves,” she said with a laugh.
Baiko was crowned along with homecoming king Frank Mauro. The two had known each other since nursery school, but her heart actually belonged to a heavy metal guitar player at the time.
He was a little late to the ceremony, so he missed the announcement.
She remembered, “I walked over on the football field to him and he’s like, ‘So, what happened?’ I was wearing the crown and holding the trophy and I was like, ‘I won!’”
After graduation, Baiko pursued a degree in education and taught as a substitute in several Long Island school districts. She worked as a behavioral specialist at AHRC in Nassau County, but left to take her new position at Flushing High School, teaching ninth-grade English. She said the transition from being a substitute to her first full-time teaching job has been awesome, but also challenging.
"So far [the students] have been really sweet and seem like they’re eager to have somebody teach them," Baiko said. "They're really respectful and represent a really great future for Flushing High School."
In the meantime, Baiko's future at Flushing High School is bright as well. "There’s a lot of respect that comes with this position," she said. "Just having your name on a pass or a schedule sheet means a lot."
If Baiko could give her 18-year-old self a piece of advice, it'd be simple: "It's all good. You're in the right spot."