Take Our Children to Work Day at the Florida Supreme Court
The average age of the people enlivening the halls of the Florida Supreme Court Building plummeted noticeably on April 25, when nearly 40 children of supreme court and Office of the State Courts Administrator employees were on-site for this year’s education- and fun-packed Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day.
Founded in 1993 as Take Our Daughters to Work Day—and expanded to include sons in 2003—this unofficial national holiday was conceived as an innovative way to expand children’s future opportunities, empowering them to imagine their tomorrows without gender limitations. Now celebrated around the world, Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day is recognized on the fourth Thursday of April each year.
The Florida Supreme Court began marking this special occasion soon after it was introduced. The timing was propitious. The court had created a Gender Bias Study Commission and a Racial and Ethnic Bias Study Commission in the 1980s—and a Commission on Fairness in the 1990s—and the work of these bodies induced an awareness of the presence of various kinds of bias in our culture generally, and in the justice system in particular, noted Ms Debbie Howells, a court operations consultant in the state courts administrator’s office who has been helping to facilitate these programs since the beginning. Initially with a “Take Our Daughters to Work” focus, they were designed to encourage girls to consider entering the legal profession. But before long, sons were invited as well, and that tradition has continued unbroken ever since.
Coordinated by the supreme court’s Public Information Office, the April event began with a tour of the supreme court building—the library, the rare book room, the lawyer’s lounge, the courtroom, and the justices’ conference room. Next was a security demonstration staged by the supreme court marshals—always an exciting highlight, especially the taser demo! And the liveliness culminated in the courtroom, where the children performed their own mock oral argument.
This year’s happening beguiled the young visitors with an additional amusement: the opportunity to pose for a photo as Lady (or Gentleman) Justice within the sphere of a massive, wooden, eight-foot tall “stand-in” of the Florida Supreme Court Seal. Indeed, this prop has its own interesting history: according to Mr. Craig Waters, director of the court’s Public Information Office, it was used as part of a theatrical production performed at a dinner celebrating the Supreme Court Sesquicentennial on May 7, 1997, and had been lying about, forgotten, in the archives all these years. As some of the photos accompanying this story illustrate, the chance to participate in this solemn tableau was clearly a temptation for people of all ages.
Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day at the Florida Supreme Court is but one example of the judicial branch’s commitment to creating an abundance of opportunities for all “students,” regardless of age, to learn about the functions, processes, and accomplishments of their courts. And, by all accounts, this year’s event was a huge success. A thank you email from Ms Mary Craft, an accountant with the Office of the State Courts Administrator, wonderfully captures the appreciation the participants felt: “I wanted to let you guys know how much my granddaughter Machaela Melvin enjoyed everything during the Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day. She has not stopped talking about it to her parents and siblings. She even held a mock trial at home for them. Thank you for allowing her to have such a rewarding experience.” The gratitude and enthusiasm conveyed by the young participants and their sponsors evince the fruitfulness of these kinds of educational endeavors.