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Infinity and beyond: Students find 3.1415 (plus) reasons to celebrate Pi Day
Class marks irrational figure with party while sixth-grader cites 203 digits
Roman Yaskulka greets friends in the hallway of North Hall Middle School on Friday morning as the school celebrates Pi Day. The sixth-grader celebrated the event by memorizing and reciting 203 digits of pi to classmates.

You might not think an irrational number could get hundreds of kids excited, but in Hall County it does.

Students at North Hall Middle and Johnson High schools celebrated Pi Day Friday. Pi Day is a celebration of the irrational number pi that begins 3.14 and goes on infinitely. The number is appropriately honored on March 14.

“It’s a math teacher’s favorite day,” said Amy Chosewood, sixth-grade accelerated math teacher at North Hall Middle. “This year it fell on a Saturday, so we’re celebrating on Friday.”

Students were asked to bring in pi art or circle art on Friday. They could also run or bike 3.14 miles, documenting the action in a creative way.

“We are doing a ton of activities,” Chosewood said. “Challenges include a pi trivia challenge, a word challenge where they are trying to name as many words that start with ‘pi’ at a time, and they’re also competing in a memorization challenge.”

Chosewood had one student, Roman Yaskulka, who she knew would be perfect for the memorization challenge. The sixth-grader memorized and recited 203 digits of pi, a mathematical constant representing the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter.

“Roman, from the very first moment he was in my math class I just realized, ‘Wow, he speaks numbers,’” she said. “... We were ready to make a deposit one day and I had all these series of checks that were whole numbers but they were in different amounts. ... He flipped through them like you would be shuffling cards to a friend and gave me the correct number.”

Roman said he began preparing for the contest via an app on his phone.

“It was Learn Pi for free,” Roman said. “I just started and I got hooked.”

Roman said he began memorizing the digits simply because he remembered typing them on the keypad. Eventually, he broke the digits into groups of 10 and memorized them like they were phone numbers.

“I’ve been practicing since last Wednesday,” he said. “My goal was to get to 200.”

Chosewood said she printed a list of the first 300 digits, broken into 10 digits at a time, so she could keep up with him as he recited and check he was correct.

She believes children today aren’t as well-equipped to memorize numbers and the contest was a good challenge for her students.

“In this day and age, I think this is probably an even bigger deal,” she said. “I didn’t have a cellphone when I was in middle school and high school, so I did have to memorize the 10 digits of all my friends’ phone numbers.”

North Hall Middle wasn’t the only school celebrating Pi Day. Scott McConnell, a math teacher at Johnson High School, brought various cakes and pies for his students in celebration.

“(He) has developed such a passion in these kids for math, that many of them came to school in homemade pi-related T-shirts,” said Chris McConnell, Gainesville native and Scott McConnell’s brother. “It’s so cool to see him making an impact in kid’s lives like that, in a subject most of us lose interest in very quickly.”