BARSTOW - Forget the Internet, television or even the newspaper. To generate interest about the upcoming presidential election to high school students, sometimes it takes a bus.

A team from the non-profit cable channel C-SPAN stopped in Barstow on Tuesday and Wednesday with its Campaign 2008 bus, making presentations to schools and community groups to generate interest about the upcoming election. In addition to the educational mission, the bus functions as a broadcasting platform, allowing viewers across the country to call in and speak with candidates, said Vanessa Bailey, marketing representative with C-SPAN.

Bailey faced a group of more than a dozen Silver Valley High School students on Wednesday morning and questioned them about the presidential race.

"How many of you are following the election closely?"she asked.

Only one student raised her hand.

Bailey said the response is common among the young people she's met across the country but thinks the diverse field of candidates is increasing interest among young voters. Despite appearances, most students are familiar with the major issues and presidential candidates from both parties, she said.

"They know who's in the game: Obama, Clinton, Romney, Huckabee," she said. "Even middle schoolers seem to know the basics."

Students who tour the bus see clips of the various candidates in action, but are also shown video footage of three major cable news networks and C-SPAN. This allows them to critique how the media portrays the same news differently using camera angles, focus and on-screen graphics, Bailey said.

Silver Valley High School Senior Jasmine Cook, 17, said that she'd hadn't really thought about the effect filming techniques have on viewers but prefers the non-descript backdrop and features-free approach
C-SPAN uses.

"I like how they take out all the distractions," she said.

She said that although she will be eligible to vote in November, she's not sure which candidate she'll pick. At Silver Valley High, where 50 percent of the students have parents serving in the military, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are a frequent topic of causal conversation and an important election issue, Cook said.

Despite the presentation and constant stream of campaign news available to students, Jesus Ramirez, 18, said the outcome of the presidential race doesn't interest him and many of his classmates at Barstow High.

"I'm not really into that stuff," he said. "I'm more of a sports guy. There's so many distractions out there like MySpace and iPods. Students need something more exciting."

Lack of interest in politics isn't limited to young voters, said Elaine Villareal, president of the Mojave Crossroads Kiwanis of Barstow, who saw the C-SPAN presentation on Tuesday. One of the group's members invited the bus to Barstow.

She said many of the clubs' members aren't political junkies, but were interested in talking to the C-SPAN staff members about their interactions with the candidates.

"Even the (members) who weren't politically aware were interested in what (the C-SPAN staff) have seen and what they've heard being out there on the campaign trail," she said. "For those who aren't politically minded, it shows them that these are real people, it's not just on TV."

She said the group would like to invite the program to come back to Barstow for future elections.