Thank you to all of the students, parents and coaches who participated in the 2nd annual FCDI Day at the Capitol. On Tuesday, April 4, nearly 100 students, coaches and parents traveled to our state’s capital to advocate for the Florida Civics and Debate Initiative (FCDI). The students, winners of the 2023 National Civics and Debate Championship, proudly represented the top talent of over 235 schools across the state of Florida that have FCDI debate teams.
FCDI day kicked off with a scavenger hunt throughout the Historic Capitol, the Capitol Courtyard and the Main Capitol Building. The challenge included questions about Florida’s former Governors, the architecture of the building, locations of historical landmarks and the importance of civics and debate. The students were able to learn new facts about Florida and the Capitol building and they were able to participate with their fellow peers.
After a morning full of adventuring the Florida State Capitol Grounds, the students met in the old Senate Chamber of the Historic Capitol, where they were greeted by State Senators Keith Perry and Alexis Calatayud. Senator Perry discussed the importance of civic engagement with them and shared stories on how he became involved in the political process.
Senator Calatayud joined the students for a moment to encourage them to stay involved in civics and debate. The Senator shared how her perspective on advocacy changed once she took office and that it makes a significant difference to the members of the legislature and how they vote. Early on, she realized her passion for the political process and encouraged the students to get involved and take opportunities that will make a difference in their communities. She is Florida’s youngest Senator, representing Miami-Dade County at 29 years old.
Allison Carter, the Chief of Staff for House Speaker Paul Renner, joined the group to highlight the importance of being politically engaged and informed on the lawmaking process. She has been working in the legislative process for close to 20 years and she gave insightful knowledge to all the FCDI Day attendees.
Despite the House being in session, Speaker Renner was even able to drop in for a quick hello and a photo with the students!
FCDI was honored to have Florida’s Lieutenant Governor, Jeanette Nuñez, join the students in the Historic Capitol. She emphasized the importance of participating in speech and debate and encouraged the students to continue their hard work.
Finally, Florida’s Education Commissioner Manny Diaz Jr., joined the students to discuss the important life skills that people learn from being involved in debate. He applauded them for the difference that they are making by advocating for the Florida Civics and Debate Initiative and congratulated them on winning the National Championship.
After an incredible lineup of legislators and important government officials, the students headed to the Senate Chamber in the main Capitol and engaged in a mock session.
They debated on the use of nuclear power and voted on a bill that was presented by one of the students. Surprise guest Senate President Kathleen Passidomo stepped in to welcome the students and hear some of their debate. Once the debate ended, the students voted on the bill and it passed!
To wrap up the day, the group went to the Florida Supreme Court and met with Florida Supreme Court Justice John Couriel. The students listened attentively as he shared the story of how he became a justice. He spoke about the effect that the Florida Supreme Court has on Florida residents and how he truly has a passion for what he does. He took time to answer students’ questions and captivated them with his transparent and exciting responses.
The champions of the National Civics and Debate Championship had an exciting and successful day at the Florida State Capitol. We are excited to see all that the Florida Civics and Debate Initiative has in store for this upcoming year with more tournaments and exciting events.
We'd like to take a moment to thank Elizabeth Eskin for her hard work, commitment and dedication to the Florida Civics and Debate Initiative. Her last day as Director of FCDI culminated with FCDI Day at the Capitol, and we are so thankful she postponed her retirement a few days so she could help facilitate the event. We wish you the best of luck - you will be sorely missed!