Okay, I am terrible with coming up with good titles but I did end up going to the awards banquet for the high school mock trial league this afternoon. In fact, I am sitting in the banquet room at the hotel using the free internet (yay technology). The final competition is in a half hour and I am debating whether I want to wander over and watch it or go back to work. That probably shouldn't be a difficult decision. I did see a nice cookie place in the skyway so I'm going to get a cookie first because that seems far more important right now. Here's what I wrote at the banquet and I even have some nice photos of Mary Pawlenty with some of the award winners - not sure if I should focus on Twin Cities schools or if the outstate ones should get press.
Spring not only marks the start of warm days but the end of some heavy competition in the state high school mock trial league. Over 135 Minnesota high school teams entered the competition this year but only one team could be named champion. The season culminated with a morning of semi-final rounds at the Ramsey County courthouse on March 12, 2008, followed by an award banquet at the Crown Royal Plaza Hotel in downtown St. Paul.
Unlike the solemn banquets that many in the adult legal world are used to attending, the high school mock trial banquet was more like a pep rally with regional championship teams encouraged to yell louder than others when their school was announced. The keynote speaker for the afternoon ceremony was First Lady and former judge Mary Pawlenty.
During her talk, Pawlenty noted the key traits of a good attorney to the eager young crowd. She pointed out that good lawyers can take a complicated case or situation and make it understandable to the audience. The group of over two hundred kids had spent the past two months learning to clarify their thinking and simplify their communication in order to eventually become good attorneys or to use in whatever profession they chose. Pawlenty’s words reinforced their training.
Compliments were also given to the adults who had worked hard with the kids to prepare them for their mock trial competition. Pawlenty advised the students to learn from the adults who care about them and who work with them. She even suggested they take at least one horrible summer job to help with character development. Her personal example was her summer after 9th grade when she had to work at a fish plant in Massachusetts. This experience helped her to appreciate her education and to want to better herself in life. Her past experience with bad bosses helped her to understand how to not to treat people and her experiences with good bosses taught her how to make others better.
Pawlenty closed by telling the students that each one of them can do something great with their lives whether it be as attorneys or in other professions. She suggested they pause and ask themselves “what is it I really want to do?” She pointed out that each student could “write [his or her] own future.” She reminded them that their world is beyond Minnesota and that each should strive to follow their passion.
Awards ranging from regional champions to All-State Attorneys were handed out after the keynote address. Regional champions were Apollo High School (Region 1), Minnewaska High School (Region 2), St. Cloud Christian School (Region 3), St. John’s Preparatory School (Region 4), Lakeview School (Region 5), New Ulm High School (Region 6), Owatonna High School (Region 7), St. Paul Central High School (Region 8), White Bear Lake North High School (Region 9), Lakeville North High School (Region 10), Meadow Creek Christian School (Region 11) and Lakeville South High School (Region 12). St. Cloud Cathedral High School won the team award for outstanding professional performance. They were nominated by opposing teams due to their courtesy and professionalism in the courtroom. The individual professionalism award was given to Katinka Kun of Nacel International School.
At the end of the ceremony, the two final teams who would face off for the state title were announced. Loud cheers came from the tables of Lakeville North High School and White Bear Lake North High School. The finalists left the banquet to prepare for the final showdown that would take place in the Ramsey County Courthouse at 2:30 p.m. the same afternoon.
In a heated battle, it ended with Lakeville North High School emerging as the state champions. The students will now move on to represent Minnesota at the national mock trial championships in Wilmington, Delaware in May.