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Howard County High Schooler Gets Surprise Ahead Of Virtual Prom For Her Work Making Masks Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

GLENELG, Md. (WJZ) -- A high school senior in Howard County was surprised with a "prom package" from Pandora Jewelry for her hard work giving back to the community.

Jena Ialongo, a senior at Glenelg High School, is one of the countless students who won't have the chance to celebrate milestones like prom together this year due to the coronavirus.

Instead, she attended a virtual prom via video conferencing app Zoom.

"I was really looking forward to wearing my dress and having this opportunity now actually allows me now which is pretty cool," she said.

Ialongo has a knack for sewing and decided to sew her own prom dress.

When the news hit that school was closed for the rest of the year, her robotics team started making 3D face shields. That inspired her to then start sewing face masks for the University of Maryland School of Nursing.

"I was like, 'I can sew, I mean I might as well help. I have all this time now,'" she said.

Now, with the help of around a dozen people, they've already made more than 1,200 masks.

The mask-making has been a welcome distraction from the disappointment that came with a canceled prom, Ialongo said.

"It's been really nice to have something to distract me kind of from a lot of the disappointing things that have been canceled," she said.


To shine a light on Ialongo's contributions to the community, Pandora Jewelry chose her as one of ten high school seniors who were gifted special prom packages totaling more than $500 worth of jewelry and goodies.

Then she was off to virtual prom.

"Even though this year kind of didn't turn out like I expected...  it did kind of turn out okay in the end," she said. "(It was) a lot more memorable in the end, definitely."

For the latest information on coronavirus go to the Maryland Health Department's website or call 211. You can find all of WJZ's coverage on coronavirus in Maryland here.

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