Room 1505 : The Ultimate Roman Forum

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.


Jasmine Rodriguez, Class of ’15

Jasmine Rodriguez

I still find myself typing “What’s the difference between affect and effect?” in the Google search bar. This is embarrassing to admit, but I must say it with my full chest and not just whispers–writing is difficult. It expands your brain, it educates you.
When I revisit my teenage diaries, I wrestle with the nihilistic perspective I held when writing my Clarion senior column. I wrote about slipping into anonymity while I was at Selma High School. Now, I find silliness in it all. I made comparisons to different movies that marked my adolescence, brandishing them as unreliable narrators for the teenager who desperately wanted to be heard, but not necessarily seen.
The Clarion taught me to make brave choices. As I wrote and rewrote my senior column, I was freeing confessions that I kept close to my heart. Mr. Castle united the class together to share our opinions about the latest Clarion issue; I chalked it up to the Roman Forum. My thoughts were laid bare to my classmates. Their critiques or compliments were the barbaric lion looking right back at me. This is why student journalism is a timeless reminder that we learn from each other and from exemplary guides such as Mr.Castle.
From time to time, I look back on The Clarion, not for nostalgia’s sake, but for how it became the foundation of who I am and what I value: friendships and failure that lead to growth. Whenever I got back Mr.Castle’s edits, I went through a frantic dance in my head wondering, “Where did I go wrong?” I kept staring at the red pigment as if the answer was going to magically appear. I surrendered myself to failure because that is the only way to grow.
There is an urgency to write that you cannot escape once you graduate. The Clarion gave me a direct route to joining the student newspaper, The Daily Nexus, at UCSB. I was thrown to the wolves at The Daily Nexus, often attending concerts and film screenings in solitude. I began to interview people that I admire with an uncoordinated shakiness in my voice. But there was no better preparation for speaking to the likes of celebrated directors, singers, and fashion designers, than being a part of The Clarion. At 25-years-old, I am a contributing writer to Flaunt Magazine. A place where I met my greatest friends and where I exercise my voice as a writer.
It is with immense gratitude that I look to The Clarion. Mr.Castle deserves all the flowers for teaching us to stumble, to fail, to chisel our own unique voices through writing. Because it is only then do we remain true to ourselves.
As I’m writing this, I am set to photograph an Oscars party in the next couple of weeks. Sixteen-year-old me, wrapped in a cocoon of shyness, would never have imagined that the act of a pencil on paper would punctuate opportunities like this. For the kid who always wanted to be heard, I’m eternally grateful for student journalism and Mr.Castle’s guidance for helping me anchor my voice.
I will always keep a line open for The Clarion.

Jasmine Rodriguez is a 2015 Selma High School Alumna. She studied Political Science and Black Studies at University of California, Santa Barbara. She loves the arts in all aspects: Anaïs Nin novels, jaunts to the movies, free museum visits, Sade albums. During her time in college, she contributed to UCSB’s The Daily Nexus and the Arts & Entertainment section at The Santa Barbara Independent. She is currently a contributing writer at Flaunt Magazine. She enjoys hanging out with her friends in LA coffee shops, sharing laughs and words over matcha and cappuccinos. She owes all her writing adventures to The Clarion.