On Nov. 10, 1975, the S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald left port from Superior, Wis. The ship, loaded with taconite, pulled out of port with clear weather.
Unfortunately, later in its travels, the Fitzgerald was hit by a horrendous storm. This storm became increasingly worse as rising wind and waves pushed over the stern of the ship. The last message heard over the radio from the captain was, “We’re holding our own.”
The ship sunk to the bottom of Lake Superior with the loss of 29 lives.
This year, the Pequot Lakes mock trial team, along with many other participating schools in the state, is arguing the civil case of Gale Storm versus Sleeping Giant Shipping Company. This fictional case concerns who or what is to blame for the sinking of this mighty ship. Was it an act of God or the result of human negligence?
In this mock case, the Sleeping Giant Shipping Company is being sued by the mother of one of the individuals who lost his life on the ship. This case is based on the historic sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald. Each school has a team of attorneys and witnesses and they face off against each other as the plaintiff or defense.
The team consists of 14 team members and two coaches. These students get a hands-on learning experience in many skills sets, such as public speaking, critical thinking, analysis, reasoning, persuasion and acting.
As one team member puts it, “I like the experience of a formal public speaking atmosphere while still being able to think on my feet, argue and have fun with the coaches and teammates.”
Not only do they grow in many skills, they also enjoy the competition. As another team member said, “I enjoy the competition with the fun of arguing in an actual courtroom.”
The Pequot Lakes team thanks Mark Mitchell, an attorney at the Crow Wing County Courthouse in Brainerd who volunteers his time to help coach the team.
This season, the Pequot Lakes team is undefeated. Real judges grade and score the team based on the direct and cross examination of witnesses and individual performance of the team members, as well as opening and closing statements made by each team.
The first meet concluded with Pequot Lakes (representing the defense of Sleeping Giant Shipping) beating Ashby High School. The second meet was a close match with Pequot Lakes (again as the defense) narrowly defeating Bemidji High School. On the last match of the regular season, Pequot Lakes (as the plaintiff) defeated Albany High School.
Last week, the Pequot Lakes team went on to their first match of regional playoffs and the team (as the defense) again beat Albany High School. The Patriots now are headed to the regional finals Friday, Feb. 21, for a seed in the state tournament.