Students of Bishop Ireton High School learn nonpartisan news

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Students at Bishop Ireton High School in Alexandria found sanctuary from “alternative facts” and “fake news” on board C-SPAN’s tour bus Feb. 10.

U.S. history and government classes were relocated to the digital bus in the portable TV studio that serves as a classroom. C-SPAN representatives told the history of the unbiased news syndicate and showed how to access its online media. After the lecture, students touched and swiped through tablets that featured the company’s content.

“It’s really a wonderful research (tool),” said U.S. government teacher Kristine Rier. “There are nice teacher lesson plans.”

Rier and her fellow teachers uses videos from C-SPAN to introduce students to the U.S. Senate and demonstrate how legislation is passed. It increasingly has become relevant with the congressional hearings for President Donald Trump’s cabinet.

“It’s really helpful as opposed to just reading,” said senior Grace O’Grady

“We’re learning about the power of the president and executive powers,” said senior Brianna Jordan.

The C-SPAN bus was used during the 2016 presidential campaign. It has since been outfitted with a new external design that depicts images of the Washington monuments and “C-SPAN” in giant blue text. The bus is ready for its 24th year on the road and started its current tour Feb. 9. 

Schools become destinations for the tour bus by partnering with local cable companies and communities. In Ireton’s case, it didn’t hurt that one of C-SPAN’s studio directors, Fred Sampaio, is also a parent at the school.

“Because (C-SPAN) doesn’t have commercials, visiting a school is a great source to promote (the station),” said Sampaio.

“We always hope students take away that C-SPAN is available,” said Vanessa Torres, C-SPAN’s marketing representative. “For them to get their own opinion and use us as a resource.”

For some students, it was an opportunity to leave the chalkboard and desk behind, while others found it as a doorway to unbiased news. 

“There are a lot of times you can see the (media) slant,” said senior Jenny Muchnikoff. “You don’t want to mimic their stance, so teachers recommend C-SPAN for a (nonpartisan) perspective.”

The opinions of writers from other media sources often drown out the facts, said Muchnikoff. “(C-SPAN) allows you to think for yourself.”

 

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2017

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