Recitation lands John “J.T.” Parente, 10, a place on the Pi World Ranking List.

ERIE, Pa. — John “J.T.” Parente wanted to break a world record when he started his fourth-grade year at Rolling Ridge Elementary School this past fall, but just didn’t know what kind of record he wanted to break.

Parente found his calling in March when Elaine LaFuria, the gifted support teacher for the Harbor Creek School District, started teaching students about circles and pi — a mathematical constant and the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter. LaFuria asked the students to memorize as many digits past 3.14 they could. Some could rattle off 20 or 30. A few others approached 100.

Parente, though, set out to do more. On Thursday morning, the 10-year-old Parente motor-mouthed his way to 575 digits — a memorization feat that will land him a place on the Pi World Ranking List. Once certified, Parente will be 96th in the United States, 103rd in North America and tied for 241st place in the world.

“It was one of our topics and I got really into it,” Parente said after reaching his goal in front of an audience that included classmates, Rolling Ridge Principal Cindy Zajac, Superintendent Kelly Hess and his parents and younger brother. “I realized there were records that could be broken. I thought it was really easy at first”

Parente had hoped to set the record for the 12 and under category, which is 2,050 digits.

“I went for it, but I couldn’t get that far,” he said. “I just got to 575.”

“Just 575?” his mom, Amy Parente, 45, said in amusement.

With about 25 sets of eyes on him, Parente didn’t hesitate when LaFuria told him start when he was ready. As the numbers spilled from his mouth, he fixed his eyes on the floor and swayed side to side, slipping into what an athlete might call “the zone.” The classroom fell silent. Digit after digit came and went without as much as a breath in between.

Parente would pause a few times, holding the classroom in suspense as he tried to remember the next number in the series he’d memorized.

Toward the end of his recitation, he slowed down again, let out a sigh, rambled off the numbers “6-2-9-3-1-7” and then lifted his head to look out at his audience.

“Is that it?” his teacher asked, unsure of where Parente was.

“Mm hmm,” he said confidently, as cheers broke out around him.

Parente hit his goal in about 2 minutes 30 seconds. Not only that, he did it a second time for the adults only so they could follow his progress, tracking his accuracy and ending place. To be included on the Pi World Ranking List, at least two adults not related to Parente had to serve as witnesses.

Hess, the Harbor Creek superintendent, stood in disbelief.

“I’m blown away,” she told him. “My hands are sweating. That is crazy.”

Parente is popular at school, LaFuria said. He plays the piano and soccer and doesn’t fit the mold of what some might think of when they think of a kid memorizing 575 digits of pi.

“Sometimes the kids who get on that track of memorization, they’re kind of alone or reclusive,” she said. “With him, no, not at all.

“He definitely utilizes his gifts,” LaFuria continued, citing those gifts as processing speed and memory. “When you meet him and get a chance to talk to him, his personality, he is like a 45-year-old in this little tiny body. He’s cool and calm.”

Parente spent about 10 minutes each day since March learning more digits in the endless pi string. He added four new digits at a time. He practiced on the bus and at home, sometimes using an app called the Pi Game.

“He went from 200 digits to 500 digits without us even knowing,” John Parente, 46, said of his son.

Added Amy Parente, “Even when he was really young, we had this ‘Stack the States’ game that you could play on your phone,” she said. “He was three or four years old and he knew all of the states.”

LaFuria told her students that the feat was a perfect example of how to set and achieve goals.

“Kids, do you see the small, achievable goals? You can do great things,” she said.