For a few hours Friday, Victoria went back in time.

Our Lady of Victory Catholic School students in flowy dresses, floppy hats and sack suits put the captain of the Titanic on trial for manslaughter.

They had read about how his ship, believed to be unsinkable, sank to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean after striking an iceberg in April 1912.

Amy Pham looked the part of the captain’s defense attorney, but that wasn’t what helped her and fellow defense attorney, Eve Brogger, ultimately get the captain acquitted.

They relied on what they had learned in Teresa Childress’ eighth-grade reading class to effectively cross- examine the passengers and crew of the Titanic and show that others carried some of the blame.

“You said something about the third-class passengers being stuck behind gates. As part of the crew, weren’t you supposed to unlock those gates?” Pham asked Miller Metzler, who portrayed Charles Joughin, who was a baker on the Titanic.

“I tried,” Metzler said, “but many people believed they should have gone first because they were first class, and I just, I went with what they said.”

Morgan Korinek, a seventh-grader, felt inspired by Pham and Broggers’ performances as defense attorneys. She said she wanted to be a defense attorney in the mock trial next year.

“I feel like everyone should have a chance to say what they want to say,” Korinek said.

Childress thanked H-E-B for a $5,000 grant. Part of that money was spent on providing costumes to the 50 participating students, which was a first in the mock trial’s several-year history. She said the costumes helped the students get more excited to learn about history, the judicial system and public speaking. Casey Cullen, a Victoria attorney and an Our Lady of Victory Catholic School alumnus, acted as the judge.

“The confidence these kids have is incredible,” he said during a recess in the mock trial.

Xavier Richmond, who portrayed Jack Thayer, an American college student whose father drowned when the Titanic sank, said this was a unique way to learn. The students read “Titanic: Voices from the Disaster” by Deborah Hopkinson.

“Instead of just reading another book, we brought this book to life,” he said.

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Jessica Priest reports on the environment and Calhoun County for the Victoria Advocate. She may be reached at or 361-580-6521.

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Former Environment/Investigations Reporter

Jessica Priest worked for the Victoria Advocate from August 2012-September 2019, first as the courts reporter and then as the environment/investigations reporter. Read her work now at

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