C-SPAN brings a lesson in civics to Shrewsbury High School

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By Melanie Petrucci, Senior Community Reporter

Shrewsbury High School students are flanked by Congressman Jim McGovern (far left) with (l to r) Jennifer DiFrancesca, Director of Social Sciences; School Superintendent Dr. Joseph Sawyer; Doug Hemmig, Community Relations Specialist with C-SPAN; and State Representative Hannah Kane Photo/Melanie Petrucci
Shrewsbury High School students are flanked by Congressman Jim McGovern (far left) with (l to r) Jennifer DiFrancesca, Director of Social Sciences; School Superintendent Dr. Joseph Sawyer; Doug Hemmig, Community Relations Specialist with C-SPAN; and State Representative Hannah Kane
Photo/Melanie Petrucci

Shrewsbury – It’s one thing to learn about civics in a classroom. It is quite another to learn about it from a source that covers it 24/7 in an impartial way. And on Oct. 15, Shrewsbury High School students discovered that for themselves when the C-SPAN Bus paid a visit to the school to offer a special, unfiltered lesson in civics.

C-SPAN (Cable-Satellite Public Affairs Network) is a private nonprofit company, created in 1979 by the cable television industry as a public service. It provides round-the-clock access to public affairs and political events, U.S. government proceedings, and international legislatures, as well as much more.

Doug Hemmig is a community relations specialist with the network.

“I get the cool responsibility to travel around on this million dollar bus showcasing all of our educational content to students all over the country,” he said has he met with students and administrators Oct. 15 at SHS.

“C-SPAN is a great way to see the checks and balances of government in action,” he said. “It’s a very simple style of reporting in real time without any filters.”

Congressman Jim McGovern (D-MA) and State Rep. Hannah Kane (R-Shrewsbury) also were present at the event, which was attended by over 100 students.

Hemmig asked Rep. Kane to share what a typical day is like for her. She said that no two days are the same. She explained that she and Congressman McGovern work together on issues such as food insecurity and that when she isn’t in session she is in her district working with and meeting with people and local and state leaders on issues and that she personally responds to constituent concerns and questions because she wants to understand what is important to them.

“Similar to Hannah, every day is different but some of my day is fighting on the House floor and that’s what you’ll see on C-SPAN but the incredible thing about C-SPAN is that it enables anybody in the country and in the world to follow what is happening in Congress… you realize there is an incredible audience out there,” McGovern noted. “There is no editing, there’s no one trying to help you make a point, it’s just natural.”

The event was hosted by Shrewsbury Electric & Cable Operations (SELCO). Jackie Pratt, SELCO’s Marketing & Customer Care Manager, said the organization’s officials thought having the bus visit SHS would be a great way to get the students engaged before the upcoming mid-term elections.

“We greatly appreciate that SELCO provided this opportunity to Shrewsbury High School for our students to engage with the C-SPAN bus. It’s important for us and our students to engage with what’s happening in American government and to have this resource to get an up close and personal look at how C-SPAN covers government,” School Superintendent Dr. Joseph Sawyer.

Mariah Hastings, a SHS senior, said that she thought the network offered a great opportunity to see government in a different light. It was also helpful, she added, as a resource for school projects.