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VALLEY FOCUS | Calabasas

C-SPAN Rolls In to High School Campus

January 21, 1998|ALLISON COHEN

Calabasas High School students enjoyed a field trip Tuesday to their school's parking lot where the C-SPAN school bus was making a stop on its nine-month national tour.

"It's neat. It's like a big moving building," 17-year-old Jon Ellinghouse said of the state-of-the-art, 45-foot bright yellow bus that even President Clinton has visited.

The $800,000 custom-made motor coach--complete with suspended robotic cameras, a full production and editing unit, microwave, shower and pullout bed--is a TV studio and educational center on wheels, now on its fifth nationwide tour.

On board, students of all ages get a dose of politics and television production 101.

"We like to think of ourselves as a public library," said C-SPAN spokesman Joe Teeples of the cable network's 24-hour public affairs programming. "You may not use it every day, but you are sure glad it's there."

C-SPAN, launched in 1979 as a public service providing full coverage of Congress and issue-oriented programs, currently reaches more than 72 million households.

"We work really hard at making sure you see a balance of coverage," Teeples said.

Calabasas history teacher Andy Falk was pleased to bring his class on board. "They are so MTV'd out. I try to force a little C-SPAN on them once in a while," he laughed.

Most students said they had watched C-SPAN before.

Ben Shapiro, 17, said he does--when he's not watching "Seinfeld" or CNN. "I think people should be more involved in government," he said. "It's important for everyone to see other's points of view, even if [those opinions] are off in left field."

Tuesday's visit was sponsored by Malibu-based Falcon Cable TV, which serves the Calabasas area.

The bus travels today to Arcadia and Thursday to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley.

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