This story was written by Rosemary Leonetti.
Long Beach High School students had three unique opportunities to get an inside look at the production of the presidential debate at Hofstra University: meeting with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews; touring the debate site the day before the debate; and stepping inside the C-SPAN Campaign 2012 Tour Bus on the day after the debate.
On Oct. 10, juniors and seniors from the IB History of the Americas class traveled to the Adams Playhouse at Hofstra University to see a presentation by political analyst and host of MSNBC’s Hardball Chris Matthews, titled “A Political Insider’s View of Washington.” In the presentation, Matthews spoke about the election and upcoming debate and entertained questions from the audience. Long Beach High School was one of only five schools invited to attend.
“It was a great opportunity for our students to hear a major political pundit express his views on the election,” said teacher Dr. Andrew Smith. “One of our students, Daniel Hanson, had an experience he will never forget—he asked a question in front of the entire audience and Chris Matthews responded!”
On Oct. 15 (the day before the debate), a group of 19 AP American Government students were invited to tour the debate venue and media room at Hofstra. They began their tour at the spin room and media-filing center, where they tried on the journalists’ seats for size. They were then escorted into the debate room, where the stage was set for the town hall debate. A security officer gave them insight into the amount of preparation it had taken to ensure that President Obama and Gov. Romney would be safe and secure. As mementos of their adventure, students were given goody bags filled with banners, t-shirts and coffee cups emblazoned with the official debate logo. They will be using the knowledge they gained from this experience to help them run their own mock campaigns for each of the presidential candidates in the weeks leading up to the election.
“My students agreed that it was the best field trip they had ever been on,” said teacher Jennifer Quinn. “We were so fortunate to be so close to history in the making. This is what American government is all about!”
On Oct. 17 (the day after the debate), the C-SPAN Campaign 2012 Tour Bus visited the Long Beach High School campus to demonstrate to students how C-SPAN produces and broadcasts its news segments. C-SPAN representatives Doug Hemmig and Matt McGuire showed students how to conduct research using the C-SPAN video library and explained the reporting and filming techniques that C-SPAN uses to ensure that their reporting is neutral and unbiased. “We have to be sure that we are simply delivering the message, not creating the message,” Hemmig explained.
A total of 60 students were able to visit the trailer in one of four 30-minute tours. The invitation was extended to students in the Photo/Video, Music in Our Lives and Studio in Theater classes, as well as to the students who produce “The Morning Show,” Long Beach High School’s own morning announcement extravaganza. This event was made possible through a partnership with Cablevision’s MSG Varsity media creation program.
"Touring the C-Span TV production bus, our students were able to truly "feel" what our democracy is all about,” saidteacher Eric Krywe. “The fact that the debates were so close to us at Hofstra University added to their excitement. Through this experience,students were fully engaged in learning about the issues of this year’s election. Many of the students exited the bus ready to vote in November, or in another four years once they're of voting age."
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