Finding Your Voice: How The Clarion Empowered me to Use Journalism for Change

In order to commemorate the 100th year anniversary of The Clarion, we will be bringing you the voices of alumni who have written for the school newspaper, reflecting on their experience in Clarion and life beyond high school.


Anna Armstrong

Anna Armstrong, Co-Editor-in-Chief/Layout Editor

The Clarion was the first place that taught me that my words can and do have an impact. In 2019, I published a column for The Clarion called “The New Kids at the Polls” that sought to inform readers about the importance of the Gen Z electorate in the 2020 Presidential Election. It was then adopted as a Letter to the Editor in the Selma Enterprise, calling on young voters to become civically engaged individuals and fight back against the powers that be. The day it was published, the letter garnered both positive and negative attention.
I soon realized that my call to action was heard even by those who disagreed with me. Dismayed at first by the comments of disgruntled Facebook users, I tried telling myself what I thought Mr.Castle would have told me – something like, “good journalism evokes a reaction.”
In January of 202o, as a high school senior, I wrote a more personal column for The Clarion about how my chronic autoimmune condition affected my views on femininity. The piece was vulnerable. I never would have dreamed I’d be able to write something so personal to who I was until I spent time learning about the power of language from Mr. Castle.
In my three years at The Clarion, Mr. Castle taught me how to be honest and intentional in my writing.
I am now a third year at UC Berkeley and the head University News Editor at The Daily Californian. On Sundays, I volunteer with the San Quentin News program and edit a newspaper by and for incarcerated people. The paper is distributed across all California prisons and juvenile centers, educating on the realities of mass incarceration.
Next year, I will apply to graduate schools to study journalism.
Whenever I am asked what inspired me to pursue a career in journalism, my answer remains unchanged: The Clarion and Mr. Castle.
At Cal I have met dozens of students who come from some of the wealthiest high schools in the country. They have never had to worry about whether or not their paper would be shut down on a whim.
The Clarion is an underdog paper – one with 100 years of history. It is a legacy worth fighting for. Journalism has never been a more important cause than it is now.
I implore all of you to continue fighting the good fight. Use what you have learned from The Clarion, Mr. Castle and Selma High School, and continue to use your voice for change. Communities like the Central Valley need your voice. Thanks to The Clarion, I have found mine. And, you will too.

Anna Armstrong is a junior at the University of California, Berkeley, where she studies Legal Studies with minors in Journalism and Public Policy. Anna currently serves as the head University News Editor at The Daily Californian. She graduated from Selma High School in 2020 and attributes her love for journalism to her time as a writer and editor for The Clarion.