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C-SPAN bus brings government to Park View

Christina Whirl explains C-SPAN to a group of Park View seniors on board the CSPAN bus. Times-Mirror Staff Photo/Ben Hancock
Students at Park View High School received a educational visit from Capitol Hill's most visible news organization Dec. 12.

The C-SPAN bus, a tool of the network Cable Satellite Public Affairs Network visited the Sterling school to show what capabilities the network provides besides the standard political coverage.

At Park View, groups of approximately 8-12 students visited the bus every 20 minutes. English teacher Elizabeth Driggers, who organized the visit said 100 12th grade government students were able to spend time in the bus.

Driggers first became aware of the bus after attending a book fair on the National Mall in 2011. The visit was first scheduled in 2011, but the bus had to reschedule due to the ongoing Presidential election coverage at the Iowa Caucus, which serves as one of the most significant stops in an election year.

“I wanted to open the kids up to different career paths and I have been trying to show them some future career options that might interest them like journalism.

This visit allowed us to show the students opportunities available to them in politics, journalism and other media,” Driggers said. “It was great because the bus is usually only at one stop for about an hour and a half, but we actually got them for more than three hours and the students really benefited from it.”

A marketing representatives for C-SPAN that travels with the bus giving presentations on the networks capabilities, Vanessa Torres is no stranger to Northern Virginia. She attended Lake Braddock High School.

She noted the representatives focus their efforts on speaking with students in government or history related classes.

“When we come to middle and high schools we ask to meet with students in government, U.S. history, American history, English and journalism,” Torres said. “We only meet with students in grades 6-12. We don't do younger because 6th graders are just starting to learn civics.”

The C-SPAN bus is on the road 10 months out of the year, making stops at middle schools, high schools and colleges all over the nation.

The bus also attends major book festivals, education conferences and political gatherings to help explain its public affairs programming while providing a greater understanding of the network and its free resources on the web.

“The purpose of the bus is to teach students there is much more to CSPAN than the TV network. We have other resources like the CSPAN website and CSPAN online video archive which contains over 200,000 hours of coverage since 1987,” Torres said. “We are also able to show them a nonpartisan viewpoint of what is going on in their government, which is important for us to pursue.”

C-SPAN is a private, nonprofit cable company established in 1979 with a emphasis on the daily political happenings in Washington, D.C.

C-SPAN uses the bus as a multimedia interactive tool where students are able to explore with touch screen computers, peruse the networks website and take quizzes to test themselves on the branches of government to see how much they know.

“C-SPAN provides a very important aspect of viewing as it is recorded as it happens and is completely nonpartisan. That is important for our students to see, because they are so used to seeing coverage from these major networks who produce their news from one side or the other,” Driggers said.


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