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Shippensburg students tour C-SPAN Campaign 2008 bus

April 22, 2008|By CHRIS CARTER

SHIPPENSBURG, Pa. -- Grace B. Luhrs University Elementary School students got a break from their regular studies Tuesday afternoon to test the political waters on Pennsylvania Primary Day.

The children toured the C-SPAN Campaign 2008 bus, which was parked behind the elementary school on the Shippensburg University campus for about two hours.

Shippensburg was the final stop before the bus headed to Harrisburg, Pa., for election results Tuesday night.

"We've been doing a lot of stuff with the election and when we found out that C-SPAN was going to be here, we set our other lessons aside for a bit," said Megan Keener, a student teacher in Mrs. Root's fifth-grade class at GBLUES. "Normally we would have been doing math, so the kids weren't too bummed."

Some of the students have already started arguing over their party affiliations.

"It starts young," Keener said.

The elementary students haven't been the target of many of the campaign advertisements so far, but their interest -- even if it was only invested in the 45-foot-long bus -- was unmatched.

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"All that's happened here will make them think, 'Hey, this must be important,'" said university spokesman Peter M. Gigliotti. "About six to eight years from now, when these kids are ready to vote, they will remember this bus being here."

Students took turns filing through the bus, which is equipped with mobile multimedia demonstration centers and TV production units for live broadcasts. The bus visited eight universities in eight days across Pennsylvania leading up to the primary. C-SPAN teamed with YouTube for the first time in an Internet/cable broadcast collaboration. YouTube set up a table in front of the bus, giving all visitors the opportunity to answer the question, "What issue in this election is most important to you, and why?"

All of the video responses are posted online as part of the YouTube Voter Video on C-SPAN at www.youtube.com/cspan. Videos could also be submitted individually and a select number are broadcast on C-SPAN cable television.

State Rep. Rob Kauffman, R-Franklin/Cumberland, who is running unopposed in the 89th District, stopped by and recorded his own YouTube video. He said it wouldn't be his first appearance on the site.

"I'm all about communicating with the people that I represent," Kauffman said. "I've used newsletters to communicate, but I have also been on YouTube. This was a great idea by C-SPAN."

Bryon Dockett, of Philadelphia, took time on his 19th birthday to record a video response. He said his main concerns are the costs of college and the struggle to pay for them.

"It's too high," said Dockett, who said he will serve the National Guard in Iraq this fall. "I just came back from active duty and I have to pay for my own room and board here. The military pays for tuition and that should be enough. But there's so much more that you have to pay for."

Other students visited the bus on the advice of their professors. Alison Dagnes, assistant professor of political science, promoted the event in class after doing plenty of legwork to bring the bus to Shippensburg.

Dagnes worked as a producer at C-SPAN before returning to school to earn her doctorate, and called on those ties to help bring the network campaign to the campus.

"It's so neat. It's a (45)-foot moving control room," Dagnes said. "Plus, this gives the students the opportunity to speak, and that's pretty much the meat of the First Amendment."

Dagnes said she was excited about the 2008 race after voting early Tuesday.

"It's fantastic. This is our World Series, our Super Bowl, our Stanley Cup," she said. "I never really thought that a Pennsylvania primary would be so important to the national election."

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