Senior Tommy Assaf tries out the latest prototype of the personal bubble. Photo: Jamie Kornheiser

Wearing a mask is exhausting. From having to keep it over your mouth and nose, to the mask-ne that is unveiled when you take it off, masks are a burden that we have had to learn to live with. Thankfully, senior Tommy Assaf thought of a creative solution to all of our problems: hamster balls.

“My mom actually gave me the idea,” said Assaf. “She told me to go feed my hamster, and the idea clicked. I just wish the hamster balls could have been produced sooner so that we could have all enjoyed a couple extra mask-less months of learning.”

Beginning at the end of April, custom-made Pace-themed hamster balls, which will be called personal bubbles, will be installed around every desk and table. Once a student enters one of these enclosed locations, they will be free to take off their mask and breathe as they please.

The installation of these personal bubbles would not be possible without Pace’s new partnership with Amazon. On Feb. 2, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos announced that he would be stepping down from his post and named Andy Jassy as his successor. In hopes of generating additional revenue for the Seattle-based company, Jassy announced Amazon’s expansion into the human hamster ball construction industry. “There is a lot of unclaimed revenue in the market of human hamster ball construction,” said Jassy in a press conference on Feb. 19.

Assaf had the opportunity to meet with Jassy and create a design at the end of February. “I wanted them to ooze Pace spirit,” said Assaf. Each bubble has a large embroidered Pace “P” logo; however, the design is plastered on the back so that students can still easily see their peers and teachers. 

A group of students were recruited to a test committee in order to ensure the comfort of the personal bubbles. “Being in that bubble was the safest I have felt during this pandemic, even without a mask,” said committee member and freshman Adrienne Durr. “Those bubbles are pure luxury.”

“It will be so refreshing to finally sneeze without a mask on during the school day,” said Assaf. Even though students will only get to enjoy these bubbles for a few weeks before the end of the semester, they may become a staple in the Pace community, according to Head of School Fred Assaf. “It’s important to ensure safe and comfortable learning in the future, or at least until the pandemic is over,” he said. “We’ll reevaluate from there.”


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