Overcoming Odds to Help Shield Workers

Michal Ashkenazy, head of the Science Department at the academy, constructs face shields for first responders. (Photo: Courtesy of Fontbonne Hall Academy)

The Tablet Staff

WINDSOR TERRACE — When Michal Ashkenazy, chair of the Science Department at Fontbonne Hall Academy, saw emergency workers on television pleading for personal protective equipment (PPE), she jumped into action.

Ashkenazy and her husband Michael decided not to try to purchase PPE for workers, but instead came up with an idea to make items from scratch and donate them.

But first, Ashkenazy contacted Fontbonne Hall Principal Mary Ann Spicijaric, who immediately gave her the green light to use the school’s equipment.

“I am so proud of them and so grateful for what they are doing to help the doctors and nurses that are fighting this terrible disease,” said Spicijaric, head of the all-girls Catholic high school in Bay Ridge.

To assist with the project, Ashkenazy enlisted the help of her daughter Devora and two Fontbonne Hall science teachers — Tania Rivera and Adam Williams.

Just as the work was to begin, the team encountered a roadblock. It was quickly discovered that the school’s lab had a 3D printer that could only utilize certain materials.

Williams, the FabLab’s manager, spent weeks researching the designs of multiple face shields that could be made using the school’s 3D printer and found none. A face shield is different from a face mask in that it is designe to cover the entire face with no skin exposed.

The team refused to give up. Determined to find a way, Ashkenazy searched for other options, ultimately finding files of face shields on New York University’s website that could be used on Fontbonne Hall’s equipment.

Having solved one problem, the team then encountered another dead end when they discovered that the raw materials they needed were sold out all over the country. So, they decided to improvise.

Instead of looking outward, the team took inventory of their school supplies and devised their own version of a face shield using clear plastic binding covers and large rubber bands from Fontbonne Hall’s main office.

Ready to start production, the team met at the school last week to finally get working.
“We are feeling extremely grateful for this opportunity to be able to help our firs responders as they battle against the virus,” Ashkenazy said.

Once production started, the team churned out 120 face shields in two days.

“This is just our small way of being able to express our appreciation, respect, and admiration,” Ashkenazy said.

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One thought on “Overcoming Odds to Help Shield Workers

  1. Great job Michal! So typical of you. Many blessings and good health to you, your husband and and the others working on the project.
    Sister Barbara Coyle- retired faculty member of St Francis Prep.
    Best regards to Mary Ann.