By the time she was crowned homecoming queen of Bayport-Blue Point High School in 1981, being royalty was already old hat to Patti Albano.
Her homecoming queen experience was “a little different than most,” as she had also been crowned prom queen the spring before.
While prom queen was selected by class, homecoming queen was selected by the entire student body.
“I was very humbled over the fact that the whole school voted,” she said. “I never thought that could happen to me. I never expected to win at all, that's just the way the cookie crumbled.”
As a high school senior, Albano also never expected to become a Suffolk County police officer. But after attending Nassau Community College for a year, she decided to get a job and wanted to find one that allowed her to help people.
“I had a friend who lived on my street [who] told me to take the test and encouraged me to do so,” she said. “I did very well ... and it all worked out and I wound up getting on the job in 1989, and I retired in 2009.”
Albano said she thinks she won her queen tiaras because she is a people person, something that also helped in her law enforcement career.
She recalled one time early in her career when a woman and her 16-year-old daughter came into the precinct. The mom was asking for help with her daughter, who she was having problems with. Albano was able to speak with the girl about her life and offer her some advice — to stay on the right road and not be so hard on her mom.
Years later, the mother-daughter pair came back to the precinct asking for her. They thanked her because the daughter had taken what she said to heart and was beginning her first year in college.
“I always felt good about that ... that somebody took the time to come in and really thought about what I said and really understood what I said,” she said. “That’s a rewarding moment.”
Albano sometimes misses the people she worked with and how “every day was a different day” at work.
“It was like a storybook. No day was ever the same on that job, it wasn’t a mundane job where everybody gets tired of being there. Something was always happening,” she said. “That’s what I miss — something always happening and being able to try to help people in one way or another.”
But Albano is enjoying retirement and spending time with her two daughters -- Gabriella, 25, and Brittany, 22 -- and her friends.
“I’m fortunate, that’s what humbles me,” she said. “I am so fortunate.”
For Pam Davis, nee Lenowicz, her love of homecoming started at an early age. As a young girl, she would go to Bayport-Blue Point’s homecoming each year and marvel at the cars that would parade through the town all decorated to show school spirit. When it came time for Davis to be a student herself, she became “very involved” in the homecoming festivities, working to decorate the banner that adorned her class’ float.
This long-term love of homecoming made her homecoming queen coronation in 1984, her senior year, all the more special.
“I went to every homecoming game growing up,” she said. “So, that’s why mine was special.”
Though she was crowned during halftime, she remembers the whole day being special.
“I remember the flowers [and] I remember standing on the field with everybody,” she said. “The camaraderie was what was most special to me.”
The next year, when Davis headed off to Cornell University to study plant science, she didn’t forget the feeling that her hometown was special. She wrote a letter to her high school principal saying how much she appreciated Bayport and how much she missed everyone.
That year, Bayport began its tradition of having the homecoming queen crowned by the previous year’s queen.
“It was nice; it was really good to come back. I loved Bayport, it was very special that the school thought about it and asked me to do it,” she said.
After graduating from Cornell, Davis moved back to Long Island and started a business in interior plant care and design. She has been plantscaping in the Hamptons for 25 years. More recently, in 2016, Davis opened The Beauty Apothecary in Mattituck, where she sells all-natural beauty products.
She says the shop was “a hobby that turned into a business.”
Using all-natural products and staying healthy is important to Davis, who has two children — Clay, who graduated from Cornell in May and Joy, a freshman at Cornell.
Perhaps for the Davises royalty runs in the family — Joy was named Strawberry Queen at Mattituck’s annual Strawberry Festival in 2016.
Jennifer Cahill, nee Wittman, says high school now is harder than it was when she reigned as homecoming queen at Bayport-Blue Point High School in 1987.
As a teacher at Sayville High School for the past 27 years, she finds her students’ experience “is different than the experience I had as a young person.”
“There’s a great deal more pressure with advanced courses,” she said. “I think college has become such a challenge and expense, kids are really working so hard just to be able to accomplish things to win scholarships and be able to go to a good school and not have to worry what it would cost them.”
She graduated in June 1988 and headed to SUNY Geneseo, where she studied to become an English teacher and played softball and basketball.
When she graduated in 1992, she came home to Long Island and started teaching English to juniors and seniors at Sayville High School.
She would spend only five years as an English teacher before earning a second master's degree to teach physical education, which she has done for the past 22 years.
Since then, she has worn different coaching hats — varsity assistant girls basketball coach, varsity softball coach and cross country coach.
Cahill is still an athlete herself — she participates in triathlons and runs marathons. She is proud to be a positive fitness role model for her students and her 9-year-old daughter, Ava.
Since becoming a mother, Cahill has missed some of the school events that she used to go to, such as homecoming, because she is taking care of her daughter.
“The students and athletes at Sayville were always my priority,” said the working married mom. “[Now] when I leave work, my real job starts at 3:45 when I get my daughter off the bus.”