They were crowned king and queen in their proms of yesteryear. But, what are they up to these days? Let's follow up with some of the past prom kings and queens of Long Island high schools. If you would like to be considered for this series, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Patchogue's Lorice Staudinger Fiala
Lorice Staudinger Fiala was crowned prom queen of Patchogue-Medford High School in 1952. The theme of the celebration was "An Evening in Paris." In addition to the royal title, the prom queen of 1951 placed a flower crown atop Fiala's head.
"I was surprised that I was the queen," Fiala said. "It was nice; it was up at the Patchogue Hotel and they had an Eiffel Tower erected there."
After graduating in 1952, she started working at The Colony Shop, which was owned by her mother, Eloise Staudinger. Fiala runs the shop, in East Patchogue, to this day. She said her mother got the idea to start the business around the time she was born. The store specializes in children's wear for special occasions like communions and birthdays.
As a Patchogue resident, Fiala is grateful for her community. "All my dear friends from years ago are still here," she said, adding that the annual alumni luncheon and 65th class reunion both are coming up this summer.
Central Islip's Jean Black
When Jean Black, née Reubold, was a student at Central Islip High School in 1965, she just wanted to blend in. Black wasn't used to being in the spotlight. So when she was crowned prom queen, she was floored. "I looked at my boyfriend as if to say, 'Really?' " she remembered. "Is this what's happening tonight? I didn't want to come to this stupid prom and they're gonna make me a queen!" When the tiara was placed on her head, Black still remembers how it painfully dug into her scalp. "I was like, 'Oh no, this is going to be my new favorite accessory now because I won't be able to get it off!'" she said with a laugh. After graduation, Black went on to cosmetology school and volunteered for the Look Good Feel Better program, which teaches beauty techniques to people with cancer. She married fellow Central Islip graduate Buddy Black when she was 20, and now lives in Oakdale. They have four children and 10 grandchildren.
Comsewogue's Bryan and Helen Savage
Ten years after being crowned prom king and queen of Comsewogue High School, Bryan and Helen Savage tied the knot. But they didn't attend the prom together -- Helen was going to ask Bryan, but wasn't sure if he'd say yes. "I asked a friend, 'Do you think Bryan would go to the prom with me?' " she remembered. "And he was like, 'No, absolutely not,' because I had dated his good friend." Bryan added, "Even though they broke up, I wouldn't even consider going to the prom with her -- out of, you know, the guy code." Several years later, the couple wound up back on Long Island for a mutual friend's engagement party. "We just had an immediate friendship and a connection," Bryan said. The former king and queen now "reign" in Rocky Point and will celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary in May.
Division Avenue's Gary Harding
Six weeks away from Division Avenue High School's junior prom, Gary Harding noticed that his peers still had a lot to plan. So, he took over the whole operation. "I kind of pushed the envelope and got everything done," he said. "And because of that, I think that's why I was voted prom king." Harding got involved in the New York Islanders Booster Club shortly after graduating in 1981. He was a season ticket holder all the way up until the team left their Nassau Coliseum home for the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Now, Harding works as financial analyst with OpenLink Financial LLC in Uniondale and works part-time as a sports radio talk show host at WGBB-AM in West Babylon.
North Babylon's Michael DellaUniversita
Back in 1997, Michael DellaUniversita was crowned junior prom king at North Babylon High School. When graduation rolled around, it was time to turn the page -- he ditched the crown for a law degree. DellaUniversita studied at Hofstra University and is now a personal injury attorney, working in Ronkonkoma. "I loved Babylon," he said. "I loved football. We won the championship senior year, and that was everything to me. I can't remember having a bad day back in high school... Everything I was taught there and everything I did there led me to where I am today."
A family affair
Patchogue-Medford High School students Emily Seifert and Zach Hicks were contenders for the prom court in 2017. Their parents came to cheer them on during the royal results, and remembered being in their shoes: Seifert's mother, Karen O'Sullivan-Seifert, was named prom queen at the same high school in 1990, while Hicks' father Scott reigned as prom king of Longwood High School in 1988. Hicks beamed while watching his son on prom night. "[Zach] is a great kid and makes us very proud," he said. "It was really easy to raise him. It was fun and it's actually hard letting go a little bit, you know? Because he's getting older and he's moving on to college. It's a crazy time; you have to take in every moment and appreciate it."
Islip's Henry Wallace
Before graduating from Islip High School in 1996, Henry Wallace discovered his passion and was crowned prom king -- twice. Wallace reigned during his junior and senior year. "I was honestly a little surprised," he said. "I wasn't in one clique in high school; I was nice and friendly to all groups." Wallace ultimately attended the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park. He is now a professional chef and director of food and beverage at the Essex Culinary Resort and Spa in Essex Junction, Vermont.
Newfield's Phil Forte
When Phil Forte was named prom king in 2006, he wasn't the only one who was surprised. "When they called my name, I looked at my friend and he said, 'How did you win prom king?'" he recalled. "I said, 'I have no idea.'" Forte ultimately started his own Allstate agency, teaming up with an old friend from high school to open the Melville business. "We're building our book from the ground up," Forte said. "We've got a lot of experience together between the both of us, so we're looking to go on from there and make a life out of it."