BY EMMA HUERTA
On March 12 and 13, most CCHS students walked into their math class to sit down in their usual seats, open their usual notebooks and learn another usual lesson. However, math teacher Michelle Harding’s students had a completely different experience in her class: the Pi Day celebration.
Pi Day is an annual celebration on March 14 (3/14) of the Greek symbol ‘pi,’ which represents the constant ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter and is approximately equal to 3.14159. Although Pi Day did not fall on a school day in 2020, Harding still hosted her arguably legendary celebration in the days prior to March 14.
“Pi Day is a day, March 14, to celebrate pi as used in geometry…” Harding said. “…but [also] mainly a day to celebrate how math is useful in our lives.”
Harding’s celebration of Pi Day is well-known at CCHS. She has been orchestrating this scholastic event for over 20 years, and cannot even remember a school year without the celebration.
“Pi Day is really fun in Ms. Harding’s class every year since it’s a nice break from the usual routine and allows for the class to unwind while still enjoying a math-related topic,” junior Michael Cline said.
“Pi Day is really fun in Ms. Harding’s class every year…”Junior Michael Cline
The importance of Pi Day in Harding’s classroom is represented by the anticipated preparation done for it, with many materials and foods required for the celebration. Harding calls upon her students to help organize Pi Day by bringing in things they’d like to have on the date.
“I start planning for Pi Day about two weeks before the big day,” Harding said. “Students are made aware of the celebration and they start writing poems and creating pi art to display.”
The celebration begins with a feast of round foods– including pie, of course– composed of students’ donations to the event. Some bring things as simple as napkins and paper plates, while others bring sweets like donuts. Next, students present their renditions of pi– whether this be through a song, poem, do-it-yourself pi shirt, art piece or short story– for extra-credit.
“On Pi Day, my students bring in round foods, including pie, and we mainly eat and enjoy the day and free time to talk with each other,” Harding said. “The best and most entertaining change I have made to Pi Day is adding songs and art related to pi. It is a great way for students to share their creativity.”
Throughout the three years that he’s had Ms. Harding as a math teacher, senior Ethan Frankel has contributed to Pi Day by writing a rap about pi each year. Through his active participation with Pi Day over the years, Frankel has been able to both learn more about the number and math itself. He also attributes the enthusiasm resulting from the celebration to the extra credit opportunities that are offered.
“It was rewarding and fun to share with the class and hear their contributions as well.”Junior Karen Suros
“I have contributed to Pi Day all three years with Ms. Harding by presenting a rap. I create raps every year by rhyming words and adding funny aspects to it,” Frankel said. “Pi Day is always important to me because I rely on the extra credit I know I will get by participating.”
Another student, junior Karen Suros, contributed to the celebration by writing a song along with junior Alyssa Khan about pi, as well as by making a shirt with a design of the symbol.
“I did make a shirt… I just wanted to make sure I took advantage of the extra credit that was offered for creativity,” Suros said. “It was rewarding and fun to share with the class and hear their contributions as well.”
With math being one of the most–if not the most– stressful subjects for students, its arguably-rigid curriculum often hinders students’ creativity. However, Ms. Harding is sure to help students gain a more optimistic perception of math by allowing more freedom in a fun and positive environment, while still correlating the activities to the subject at hand.
“It is important to take a break from the typical routine and do something fun yet still related to math.”Math teacher Michelle Harding
“I really enjoyed the celebration; it was a refreshing break from the usual math lessons and an opportunity to be creative in a subject that does not always allow for that,” Suros said. “Plus, the food is always enough reason to enjoy Pi Day.”
These reactions from students are exactly what Harding wants to promote through her Pi Day celebration, with students growing more enthusiastic about math through a fun activity. She plans to keep this celebratory tradition and have math-related fun with students for years to come.
“It is important to take a break from the typical routine and do something fun yet still related to math,” Harding said. “I find that my students look forward to eating in class more than anything else. It’s like a great treat that we wait for once a year.”
Disclaimer: Alyssa Khan is also a staff member of The Lariat.
Photo by Emma Huerta