π: 2013 Pi Day At Greater Latrobe

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On Thursday, 3.1415926, the Greater Latrobe School District is celebrating Pi Day. Pi, as most high students know, is a mathematical constant ( π ). Some overheard comments in the hallway have been, “What is Pi Day?” and “Why are we making a big deal of it?” Some would be surprised to know this self proclaimed “geek holiday” isn’t just for math fanatics.

The earliest known celebration of Pi Day was in 1988 and was organized by Larry Shaw, who was (unsurprisingly) a physicist. From then on, it spiraled into a holiday, with the House of Representatives passing a resolution recognizing March 14, 2009 as National Pi Day.

Pi Day at Greater Latrobe is celebrated through guest speakers and annual t-shirts. Mrs. Shannon, who manages Pi Day, says that Pi Day was started many years before she came to Latrobe. The celebration of Pi Day originally included poster making from students, making Powerpoints about different aspects of mathematics and now Pi Day includes guest speakers and a t-shirt contest.

The t-shirt contest was started in 2007, when Mrs. Shannon received requests from students to design the Pi Day t-shirts and have the student body vote for their favorite. Voting and designing the t-shirts has become a tradition for Greater Latrobe on Pi Day, with this year’s winner being Heather Fabrey.

Fabrey, a talented senior artist, creatively used a popular ad for inspiration. “I was influenced by the Chick-fil-a ads, where the cow is holding a sign that says “Eat more chicken”, and that prompted my design,” said Fabrey. The design for the t shirt is a Pi symbol that has a piece bitten out of it and is holding up a sign saying, “Eat cake!” On Pi Day, a sea of purple and green Pi Day shirts were seen throughout the school.

Latrobe makes an effort to have different guest speakers each year. This year’s speakers include Mr. Dennis Gyroy, a retired teacher turned self employed contractor; George Nagle, who works at Kennametal; Natalie Mangini, a retired nuclear chemist who also manages Carbone’s restaurant; and two past Latrobe graduates, Carolyn Bryson and Joe Skapura, who work for Alcoa Wheel Transportation Products and Iezzi Construction, respectively.

“What I got out of the Pi Day speakers was the idea that there is a lot more out there for jobs that use math. You can be more than a high school math teacher. The possibilities are practically endless,” said sophomore Emma Rockwell, who was not initially interested in a career in math, but is now considering thinking about it.

Junior Jessica Yasher got to listen to speakers Carolyn Bryson and George Nagle and learned that to succeed in business, you have to put in the extra effort and “make yourself the best by thinking outside the box” so you can be able to enjoy success in your job.

Sophomore LaVeda Sartoris enjoyed hearing about how traveling and math are interrelated, said, “I learned that you can’t compare your achievements to someone else’s standards if you want to be successful.”

Most students enjoyed listening to the Pi Day speakers, but a few students, like junior Adam Sarp, joked about how the pie was the highlight of their day.

“These speakers are here to talk about the importance of math. Some students don’t realize how much math they will be using someday in their careers,” said Mrs. Shannon. Since the math department does not have as many opportunities to take field trips, Pi Day is extremely important to the teachers.

Shannon’s feelings about the importance of math in students’ futures reflect upon the the speakers’ messages. She said, “These guests are coming in to tell the students how important it is to gain as many math skills as possible during your high school years. Math isn’t just about knowing formulas or using a calculator; math skills also involve creative thinking and problem solving.”