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History + March Madness = ‘Favorite Class’

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(credit: CBS) John Lauritsen
John Lauritsen is a reporter from Montevideo, Minn. He joined WCCO-...
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ROSEMOUNT, Minn. (WCCO) – March Madness — it’s the time of year when basketball is on the brain.

But in Josh Hoekstra’s history class at Rosemount High School there’s a different type of March Madness taking place. The format is the same as the NCAA tournament, but the players are much different.

“I just saw such excitement,” Hoekstra said. “They were into the tournament. And I just thought, ‘Wow, it would be nice to have this type of excitement, this type of energy, in U.S. history.'”

That’s how “The Most Courageous American Tournament” was born.

Students submitted a one-page essay on a courageous American from any era. Hoekstra drew the names out of a hat and placed them in random brackets. Abraham Lincoln is kind of like Duke. Teddy Roosevelt is akin to Syracuse.

“We study them, we research them, we debate them, and then we vote,” Hoekstra said.

On this day, it was World War II veteran Lou Zamperini taking on Revolutionary War hero Nathan Hale. The entire class researched both men and then debated who they thought was more courageous.

“It’s never a dull day in class,” sophomore Brendon Thompson said. “It’s always something new, something different.”

A good argument for your guy is kind of like a clutch three-pointer. And the vote afterward has the excitement of overtime.

“This is my favorite class by far,” sophomore Madelyne Montgomery said. “It’s more fun, and the teacher is awesome.”

There’s a Final Four, of course, but no prize at the end. It’s all about pride, especially if the courageous American you entered wins it all.

“It’s been the best thing I’ve done in 14 years in the sense that it’s providing energy,” Hoekstra said. “The cool thing is you can have historical figures from different eras taking on each other.”

Last year the winner was Navy Seal Michael Murphy who received the Medal of Honor for his service in Afghanistan.

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