Manny Abrante recites the numbers in groups of three.
He sways slightly, clasping his hands together as his voice rises and falls. His math teacher, Philip Gentles, flips through page after page to keep track of Manny.
In just over 2 1/2 minutes, 12-year-old Manny can rattle off 576 digits of Pi. That’s already 33 more numbers than he could recite four days earlier, when he took home his school’s platinum prize in their Pi Day competition.
Manny was nervous about getting in front of his whole school (all 56 kids), but he blew the competition out of the water. Second place was 127 digits. Third was 102.
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“That’s our boy,” said Beth Havrilla, director of the Vanguard School in Coconut Grove for students with average or above average IQs with learning disabilities or attention deficit disorders.
As the winner, Manny took home a trophy crowned with the symbol for Pi.
The real prize? Getting to smash a cream pie in Mr. Gentles’ face.
“I smelled like rotten eggs for two days,” Gentles complained.
“Oh, yeah,” Manny said with a giggle. “That’s true.”
He started practicing in November, when the contest was announced. His parents helped him by checking off the numbers, which he saved on his flash drive.
But Manny isn’t done. His goal is to reach 1,000, or even 1,500. He said he’s warming up for next year’s competition.
“Honey, if you get to 1,500 you can pie me in the face,” Havrilla told him.
Manny’s eyes lit up. “I’ve got 2,000 on my flash drive,” he said.