Athletic director Sharon Uhl removes her sunglasses after getting pans of whipped cream thrown at her face during lunchtime on Friday as Costa Mesa High and Middle School celebrates Pi Day. (Kevin Chang/ Daily Pilot) (KEVIN CHANG, Daily Pilot / March 14, 2014)

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Seventh-grader Jonathan Barton steadied himself and stared down his target.

With a sly smile, the 12-year-old pulled his arm back with the intensity of a Major League Baseball pitcher and launched the aluminum pie tin full of whipped cream through the air and right into his science teacher's face.

The entire lunch area erupted in cheers.

What would typically be treated as a punishable offense was welcomed at Costa Mesa High School on Friday — also known as Pi Day.

"I picked Ms. [Verenice] Vazquez because she's my toughest teacher," Jonathan said. "She raised the grades to a higher standard this year, so I got her back."

Costa Mesa Middle and High school students celebrated the mathematical-themed day by flinging pies at their favorite math, science and physical-education teachers.

The number pi, roughly 3.14, has gained notoriety in schools across the world because of its mystery. There is no way to calculate it exactly by simple division, and its digits go on infinitely with no apparent rhyme or reason.

However, it's important because it's used in nearly all math and science disciplines, said science teacher Lee Kelly.

The lunchtime event, which was open to the entire student population, raised money for the Delta program and the Associated Student Body, Kelly said.

The 300 high-achieving math and science students in the Delta program threw their first whipped cream pie for free. The rest of the students paid $1 to douse their teachers in sticky whipped cream.

"The teachers are great sports. You stink all day after this," Kelly said. "It starts to smell like mildew almost immediately."

Delta students were also treated to a free slice of pie — choices included berry, apple, pumpkin and peach, all donated by Delta parents.

Chelsey Atienza, a seventh-grade student in the Delta program, also targeted Vazquez when it was her turn to toss a pie. However, she had a different reason.

"She's my favorite teacher. She's so funny and sassy and has the best jokes," Chelsey, 13, said. "She makes learning science interesting."

After all the pies had been tossed at the end of the lunch period, Vazquez attempted to wipe the whipped cream off her face and hair.

The mess was worth it, she said.

"This celebrates students in the program who are doing a phenomenal job," she said. "It also gets students who aren't in the program out here participating. It gets them interested."