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