Easy as Pi

Editor's note: This corrects how many digits of Pi Benjamin Most recited.

CORONA DEL MAR — Benjamin Most, 13, sat on a folding chair before his peers, his hands clutching the seat and his face nearly expressionless as he began a rapid-fire recitation of the numbers after 3.14.

They tumbled out of his mouth, barely comprehensible, like he was in a trance. He recited 3,310 digits of Pi from memory as a pair of judges checked him for accuracy.

Successfully defending his Pi King crown on Monday, Benjamin blew away the competition, as well as the school record he set last year by reciting 2,522 digits.

He hesitated a handful of times but finished recalling the string of numbers at the 10-minute, 27-second mark.

"And that is all I have," the seventh-grade student said quietly.

The reigning Pi King was the first student called up to recite as many digits as he or she could at Harbor Day School's annual Pi Day celebration.

"I'm not sure, but anyone think they can better that?" math teacher Meggen Stockstill asked the seventh-graders. "I think the Pi King continues his reign."

The celebration challenged the private school's K-8 students to memorize as many digits of Pi as they could and partake in a slice of their favorite pie with a side of vanilla ice cream when they would normally be in math class.

The students dug into the selection of pies, taking pieces of apple, blueberry, banana cream and Boston cream pie as they watched the four other students in the class take turns reciting Pi, the number famous as the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter

With his crown safety secured once again, Benjamin grabbed a slice of his favorite pie — apple — and a glass of Cactus Cooler soda.

Madeleine Francis, 13, memorized 161 — more than the 100 digits required to win a homework pass — to take second place in the class.

"I thought it sounded really cool," she said.

The celebration, which Stockstill started at Harbor Day in 2000, has grown into part of the school's culture, gaining participants ranging from kindergartners, who don't know what Pi is, to eighth-graders in their last year at the school.

The event allows students not interested in math, or who struggle with it, to get excited about the subject, or have one area they can excel in, Stockstill said.

"It's just fun to have a school full of kids excited about math," Stockstill said. "It's unbelievable."

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