Ottawa Citizen

Glebe math teacher circles the web

- BY WILLIAM LIN

A video clip of a Glebe Collegiate math teacher drawing what seems to be a perfect circle by hand has attracted hundreds of thousands of hits online in just a few days.

But don’t believe everything you see online: the Ottawa res- ident is not really the World Freehand Circle Drawing Champion.

In the video, Alex Overwijk, 41, who is head of Glebe’s math department, stands in front of a chalkboard while his students watch.

“ This is something I do in my spare time. I draw freehand circles and then I found out there was a world championsh­ip,” he told the class. “ It’s like winning the Masters. Once you win, you automatica­lly get invited back every year.”

After some stretching, he took a piece of chalk and drew what appeared to be a flawless circle on the board.

Although the teacher never mentions it on the video, the clip title dubs him World Freehand Circle Drawing Champion.

That was apparently enough to get his video posted on Youtube. com, with the claim that he draws a “ perfect freehand circle, one metre in diameter, in less than a second.”

Glebe’s own website asks students if they knew one of their teachers was a circledraw­ing champion.

YouTube, the video- sharing website, even featured the clip on its front page yesterday. Barely three days old, the clip already had nearly 100,000 views by yesterday evening and hundreds of comments.

As of last evening, the video had also attracted about 600,000 hits at Break. com, another videoshari­ng Website. Meanwhile, a spate of blogs was already showing the video, calling him one of the world’s fastest freehand drawers.

But no such competitio­n exists, Mr. Overwijk says. At least, not to his knowledge.

“ It’s my schtick with my kids. I’ve been telling them this story for 10 years,” Mr. Overwijk, a 17- year veteran math teacher, said yesterday.

Mr. Overwijk stopped using a compass nearly a decade ago to draw circles because “ it was just a pain.”

As a joke, he told his students that he was the freehand circle champ in Las Vegas, having watched the bartending championsh­ips the weekend before.

“ It just spewed out and most of the class bought it.”

Last June, the school’s webmaster and a former Glebe student filmed Mr. Overwijk performing the “ feat” for the class — the infamous video that is rapidly spreading across the net.

Most comments on various sites showed amazement and praised the teacher for what seemed like a difficult feat; others were skeptical.

One poster on YouTube calling himself manydinosa­urs, and who identified himself as a former Glebe student, wrote yesterday: “ It’s just been an ongoing joke for past few years. … there’s even a picture of him in the yearbook next to a circle. But its not true.”

As for a real circle- drawing competitio­n, with all the publicity he’s received, Mr. Overwijk’s thinking about starting one.

“ We’ll do it for real. Yeah, why not?” he asked. “ It’s pretty popular, apparently.”

 ?? KIER GILMOUR, THE OTTAWA CITIZEN ?? A YouTube video of Glebe math teacher Al Overwijk, drawing a nearperfec­t freehand circle in less than one second, has attracted lots of attention at video- sharing websites.
KIER GILMOUR, THE OTTAWA CITIZEN A YouTube video of Glebe math teacher Al Overwijk, drawing a nearperfec­t freehand circle in less than one second, has attracted lots of attention at video- sharing websites.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada