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ICYMI: PARTICIPATION IN THE GREAT DEBATE, FLORIDA’S NATIONAL CIVICS AND DEBATE CHAMPIONSHIP, TRIPLED

~ All 67 Districts Are Now Participating in Florida’s Civics and Debate Initiative ~


Tallahassee, Fla. — Last weekend, 420 students from around the country gathered in Orlando to compete in The Great Debate: Florida’s National Civics and Debate Competition. Participation in the competition has tripled since Governor DeSantis launched the Florida Civics and Debate Initiative (FCDI) in 2019. FCDI, the host of The Great Debate, now can boast that all 67 school districts in Florida have established a middle or high school debate team as part of this initiative.

“The Florida Civics and Debate Initiative teaches students civics education, which is important to ensure future generations understand our nation’s core values,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “Congratulations to this year’s contest winners and thank you to the more than 400 students from across the country who came to Florida to participate in The Great Debate.”

“Florida is leading the way in civics education, and we are proud that our national hallmark event is growing exponentially along with the Florida Civics and Debate Initiative,” said Commissioner of Education Manny Diaz, Jr. “The Great Debate provides an opportunity for Florida to reinvigorate public debate and civil discourse while simultaneously enriching students’ understanding of the democratic values of our country.”

“The Great Debate is beginning to shape into the event that we’ve imagined from the beginning,” said Rebecca Matthews, Board Chairman of the Florida Education Foundation. “We are thrilled students from all over the country came to provide our Florida students with out-of-state competitors.”

“As a veteran, I appreciated seeing our youth engage in civic debate over Veterans Day weekend,” said John Duebel, Director of the Florida Civics and Debate Initiative. “The Great Debate provided students the chance to enhance their civic knowledge while challenging their debate skills.”

The Great Debate crowned 67 winners for both the middle school and high school divisions. Judges scored the students on Congressional Debate, Impromptu Speaking and Extemporaneous Debate. Winners were selected for each event as well as overall winners for middle and high school. The top five winners for each division and event are:


Overall – Middle School Division

  • Champion – Ann Moywaywa, Abraham Lincoln Middle School, Gainesville

  • 2nd Place – Natalie Sierra, iPrep Academy North, Miami

  • 3rd Place – Truitt Williams, South Sumter Middle School, Webster

  • 4th Place – Gerardo Cardoso, Wildwood Middle/High School, Wildwood

  • 5th Place – Jorge Herrera, iPrep Academy North, Miami

Overall – High School Division

  • Champion – Saaya Lijo, Apopka High School, Apopka

  • 2nd Place – Christian Bailey, Fort Walton Beach High School, Fort Walton Beach

  • 3rd Place – Jonathan Adler, Coral Academy of Science, Las Vegas, Nevada

  • 4th Place – Katelyn Ryan, Aberdeen Central High School, Aberdeen South Dakota

  • 5th Place – Will Waller, Samuel W Wolfson High School, Jacksonville

Congressional Debate – Middle School Division

  • Champion – Ann Moywaywa, Abraham Lincoln Middle School, Gainesville

  • 2nd Place – Truitt Williams, South Sumter Middle School, Webster

  • 3rd Place – Ty Mack, iPrep Academy North, Miami

  • 4th Place – Gerardo Cardoso, Wildwood Middle/High School, Wildwood

  • 5th Place – Pierre Lascaze, iPrep Academy North, Miami

Congressional Debate – High School Division

  • Champion – Ewa Tryniszewski, Wellington Community High School, Wellington

  • 2nd Place – Hunter Hayes, Lake Nona High School, Orlando

  • 3rd Place – Vedha Ubale, Lake Nona High School, Orlando

  • 4th Place – Samuel Nuebel, Apopka High School, Apopka

  • 5th Place – Savannah Sisk, Lake Buena Vista High School, Orlando

Extemporaneous Debate – Middle School Division

  • Champion – Ann Moywaywa, Abraham Lincoln Middle School, Gainesville

  • 2nd Place – Nathan Moronta, iPrep Academy North, Miami

  • 3rd Place – Michael Huan, Abraham Lincoln Middle School, Gainesville

  • 4th Place – Truitt Williams, South Sumter Middle School, Webster

  • 5th Place – Krupa Augustin, Valley Ridge Academy, Ponte Vedra Beach

Extemporaneous Debate – High School Division

  • Champion – Esly Villeda Castillo, Wildwood Middle/High School, Wildwood

  • 2nd Place – Saaya Lijo, Apopka High School, Apopka

  • 3rd Place – Colton Collins, Okeechobee High School, Okeechobee

  • 4th Place – Jonathan Adler, Coral Academy of Science, Las Vegas, Nevada

  • 5th Place – Abdul-Aziz Khanfar, Suncoast High School, Riviera Beach

Impromptu Speaking – Middle School Division

  • Champion – Ann Moywaywa, Abraham Lincoln Middle School, Gainesville

  • 2nd Place – Jorge Herrera, iPrep Academy North, Miami

  • 3rd Place – Mia Yu, Abraham Lincoln Middle School, Gainesville

  • 4th Place – Caressa Birks, Pembroke Pines Charter School Middle West, Pembroke Pines

  • 5th Place – Selena Dexter, Alachua Learning Academy, Gainesville

Impromptu Speaking – High School Division

  • Champion – Will Waller, Samuel W Wolfson High School, Jacksonville

  • 2nd Place – Vaughn Van Dyck, Lake Brantley High School, Altamonte Springs

  • 3rd Place – Bryson Frick, Broken Arrow Senior High School, Broken Arrow, Oklahoma

  • 4th Place – Ayla Geoghegan, Samuel W Wolfson High School, Jacksonville

  • 5th Place – Peter Moywaywa, Eastside High School, Gainesville

Inspiring Coach Award

  • Melissa Gordon, Lake Buena Vista High School, Orlando

  • Derek Antoniazzi, Lake Nona High School, Orlando

  • Cathy Brown, Apopka High School, Apopka

Freedom Cup Award

  • Wesley Liu, Pacific Bay Christan School, Pacifica, California

For a complete list of winners, visit The Great Debate.

To learn more about the Florida Civics and Debate Initiative, visit www.civicsanddebate.com.


Florida Civics and Debate Initiative

Florida is leading the way in strengthening civics instruction and education in Florida’s kindergarten through postsecondary schools. In 2019, the Florida Department of Education and the Florida Education Foundation established a statewide debate program that focused on civics education. The Florida Civics and Debate Initiative (FCDI) is the first of its kind to use debate specifically as a tool to enrich civics education and to have incredibly strong support from state leaders.

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