Words Are Power

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 Lozano Castillo, Class of ’20

Jasmine Lozano Castillo, Reporter

If you search up the word “clarion,” you’ll find two definitions online. The first, a noun- “a shrill narrow-tubed war trumpet” and the second, an adjective- “loud and clear.”I would like to share a third with you: a person, place, and thing that helped bring me to life. Mr. Castle, Selma High’s room 1505, and the student journalism community in The Clarion have indefinitely impacted the person I’ve grown to become today as this amazing trifecta of learning encourages real thinking.
As much as I would love to write a billion and a half words about enlightenment, multifacetedness, intellectual development, passion, tangibility, opportunity and the importance of table talk, community, love, processing trauma, and healing on individual growth- I remember an important concept: quality over quantity always (this one’s for you little brother). I want to highlight the impact of identity, intersectionality, and intentionality on the way we see the world. Consequently, the company and community we keep shapes the perspective we hold. If there’s anything you take away from this piece, please let it be that words are powerful. The words you surround yourself with and the words you use are a reflection of you.
The Clarion and Mr. Castle are major pillars in my journey to discovering my love and appreciation for words and harnessing the power they hold. The ways in which we express our words converts voices to swords for change, advocacy and growth through civic engagement, education, and experience alike.
I often think back to the 17 year old I was and I shiver thinking about how life would have turned out if I never registered the power and impact of words before going out into the “real” world. Words shape the lives we experience and consequently what we think, how we think inevitably becomes reality. Navigating life as the person you are is one of the things that no one can ever really prepare you for. As someone who has a low income background, is a first generation student, and a Latina woman from the Central Valley, I am well aware that the exposure to certain resources, opportunities, and guidance for self-development can be extremely limited.
As a 2020 SHS Graduate, my senior year of high school was undoubtedly a whirlwind of an experience. Fall 2019 was full of college applications, personal turmoil, and the beginning of a neverending mental health journey. I was able to grow through words and connection. It was then that I learned that words can be used to break cycles, music can heal, and most importantly: there are people who understand.
Through student journalism, school newspapers like The Clarion and people like Mr. Castle can continue to make an impact on the lives of students who are learning how to use their voice. Learning how to use our voice through our words allows us to advocate for change and hold broken systems accountable. Breaking detrimental cycles and empowering those who aren’t equipped to speak up and speak out about their experiences enables us to change lives and empower voices on different platforms and in a multitude of ways.
Bringing awareness to lived experiences, highlighting the experiences of marginalized communities, and giving a platform to our passions are why school newspapers like The Clarion are such valuable outlets for intellectual growth and voice empowerment. Using our voices to advocate for change is one of the many ways we can harness the power of words to pave paths of enlightenment for those to come.
Throughout the fall 2019 and spring 2020 semesters of my senior year at Selma High School, I came to realize the importance of mental health. I also learned how to express the impact of my experiences and how they intersect with my identities, my community, my generation, the geographic location I’m in, and how my voice can create the change I need to persevere despite the odds. Mr. Castle, room 1505, and the pillars of advocacy I developed in student journalism through The Clarion provided me with the resources to write about my resiliency and the resilience that is built into the people from my communities. I’ve come to learn that when we’re being stifled and silenced is when we should speak up the loudest. Para los que se ven como yo, espero que yo pueda servir como un ejemplo que si se puede. You and your story deserve to be heard. Tu mereces que el mundo escuche todo lo que tengas que decir. And remember, healing isn’t linear and most importantly: words are power.

Jasmine Lozano Castillo is a 2020 Selma High School graduate and is currently a 3rd year student at the University of California, Berkeley at which she has been studying Political Science and Ethnic Studies with a Race and the Law minor. During her time at UC Berkeley Jasmine has been a Student Assistant at Berkeley Law School and a Student Employee with Bancroft Library and Residential Life. She values the community spaces she has grown to love in some of the organizations she’s involved in on campus like Skateboarding at Berkeley, Berkeley Bside Music Magazine, Brown Issues at UC Berkeley, Hermanas Unidas, and the Latinx Pre-Law Society. She believes it is important to learn from our experiences for the sake of self growth, advocacy, social and emotional health, and civic engagement so that we may use our words to light pathways for others.