Bayport-Blue Point High School math teacher and student council adviser Carol Pitkewicz is retiring at the end of the year, capping off a 23-year career with the district.
When it comes to prom fashion, she's seen it all.
"We went through a time when [the boys] were wearing baby blues and white, all kinds of top hats and different kinds of shoes," Pitkewicz said of the school's prom, which traditionally happens during junior year. "There is a thread that runs through it that is always the same."
And nobody knows thread as it pertains to the prom quite like Pitkewicz.
As a longstanding tradition, Pitkewicz brings a travel-sized sewing kit to the prom, ready to spring into action when a button is detached or a quick fix is needed.
"Sometimes the dresses are very fitted and the ladies are dancing and having a good time, and all of a sudden, a button will pop," Pitkewicz, 62, said.
Reflecting on proms past, she recalled a student splitting the entire length of her dress about 10 years ago.
"She had to go into the ladies room, take her dress off in the stall, and put the dress over the stall door," Pitkewicz recalled. "I sat there and sewed that seam from top to bottom with a little tiny sewing kit, threading and rethreading the needle.
"It took a long time, and she kept saying, 'Are you done yet?' She got it back on. She went back out there. It didn't come apart for the rest of the night."
As her promgoing years come to an end, the teacher has a lesson for the students -- one that goes along well with the extra effort and caring she's shown in keeping special prom nights from literally falling apart.
"Continue to work as hard as you work now," she said. "Always keep a smile on your face. Tell the people that you love them."