ASHTABULA TOWNSHIP — College tuition, school lunches, fairness and the environment are among the things Braden Middle School students want the next president of the United States to address.

The students made their concerns known Tuesday when the C-SPAN election bus, in partnership with Spectrum, arrived in Ashtabula as part of its tour. The school selected 22 students to participate. 

“It’s awesome,” said Braden Principal Don Sapanaro. “We are really excited about C-SPAN coming here.”

The state-of-the-art, 45-foot customized mobile classroom and production studio is part of a seven-week tour of 10 states. The bus features interactive kiosks, television screens and visitors took part in demonstrations where they learned about C-SPAN’s coverage of the American political process, campaign programming and online educational resources, including C-SPAN.org.

“Coverage of government is very important,” said Joel Bacon, a marketing specialist for C-SPAN. “We show the entire [government hearing, debate, speeches, etc.] and you tell us what you think. We do not give opinions. We think that is important.” 

Students were invited to share their thoughts on issues they want the candidates to address during the campaign as part of the “Voices from the Road” project.

Seventh-grade student Isaiah Hommes wants the next president to “lower college tuition and improve school lunches.”

His classmate, Samuel Ferguson, said he’s looking for a president who will keep things “balanced.”

Hailey Anthony, also seventh-grade student, looked for a candidate who understands “what’s going on in the world” and is good to the people.

“I want a president who is concerned about the environment,” said Sam Aguinaga, also a seventh-grader. “I’m worried about pollution in the ocean.”

Classmate K’den Hommes said: “I want somebody who is fair to all people, no matter color or income.”

Students also were invited to take part in C-SPAN’s national documentary competition, StudentCam.The competition challenges students to produce a 5-to-6-minute documentary using C-SPAN video to explore a local or national issue. Each winner receives $5,000. C-SPAN will award a total of $100,00 to the winning students.

This year’s theme, “What’s Your Vision in 2020?” asks students to explore the issue they most want presidential candidates to address during the campaign.

The bus tour began Sept. 4 in Iowa, where the first caucuses in the nation are held. The bus then traveled to Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio. The tour ends Oct. 18 in New Hampshire, which holds the first primary election in the country.

“Spectrum suggested we visit Ashtabula,” said Shannon Augustus, a production associate with C-SPAN. “Our next stop is Erie, Pa., and then on to Buffalo, N.Y.” 

Before the bus rolled out of Braden, Ashtabula City Council President John Roskovics was unexpectedly interviewed for an upcoming segment, where voters are asked what issue do they feel is most important in 2020. Roskovics said the environment. 

In Cleveland and Ashtabula, C-SPAN programming is provided by Spectrum as a commercial-free public service and can be seen on channel 359; C-SPAN2 on channel 360; and C-SPAN3 on channel 361 and on the web at C-SPAN.org. Funding for C-SPAN operations, including bus visits, is provided by cable and satellite TV providers.

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