Claude’s Column: That’s All Folks

I’ve been writing since I was 13 years old. That’s not very long, yet it feels like forever ago. I often ponder upon how I moved from 7th-grade writing class to the newsroom and beyond in what now feels like no time at all. Sometimes, I wonder where all that time went. I wonder what happened to that boy from Huber Heights. I wonder what he would’ve thought had he known the triumphs and trials that lay ahead of him. 

Six years ago, I first discovered my passion for writing at School on the Rock homeschool co-op in Vandalia, OH. I was enrolled in IEW (Institute for Excellence in Writing) writing class along with many of my friends. I’d been in multiple elementary creative writing classes prior to, yet never thought much of them seeing how I was a child too busy doodling in my notebook. But, something clicked this time, and as teachers and students gave me feedback on my work, I realized that writing might be a talent worth pursuing. 

Over the next few years, I continued to learn from the best writing teachers in the area and slowly began to hone my craft through several writing courses. In 2017, I signed up for Sinclair’s College Credit Plus program with hopes of finding a career path and proving that homeschoolers are more than socially awkward geeks. 

Unlike most students I knew, my high school years weren’t spent in a public school or even at home, they were mostly spent in college classrooms. Rather than the comfort of my bedroom or a homeschool co-op classroom which I’d grown accustomed to, I learned surrounded by students much older than me. I was initially intimidated, but I adapted to college life and found a way to make good use of my passion for writing.

Spring of 2018, I was assigned to submit a written work for publication for my English 1201 class. One of the papers recommended was Sinclair’s own Clarion Newspaper. I’d consistently pick up the Clarion since I arrived and was impressed with its tagline “produced for students, by students.” I toyed with the thought of one day submitting an article for publication, however, never took it seriously until English 1201 stirred my interest. With nothing to lose, I began to write. 

In May of 2018, I submitted a piece called “What to Expect from The Incredibles 2,” the first-ever edition of what would become “Claude’s Column.” While it failed to make it to the print edition, it was posted on the Clarion website as a student spotlight. I’ll never forget that day, the excitement I felt that something I wrote was considered publishable. Roughly a month later, I was hired on as an official reporter. So began my first job. 

The rest of 2018, I kept myself busy, jumping from one article to the next while trying to keep up with my Sinclair classes as well as my homeschool responsibilities. While different than anything I’d ever done before, my heart was invested and the fire was in my eyes. But never in my wildest dreams did I think I would one day not only write articles for a newspaper but oversee and edit articles for a newspaper.

Christmas that year I got an email from the editorial staff, offering me a promotion to the role of associate editor. I was speechless. “Do I have what it takes to step up and lead? Am I ready for this?” I wondered. I thought and prayed upon the matter and within 24 hours accepted the offer.

My time as an editor was a roller coaster of ups and downs. I worked with some of the best student journalists in the business and made many friends both in the newsroom and beyond. Then taking classes in Dayton, I was able to experience Sinclair at it’s best and find some really exciting stories around campus. I was able to talk to the people of Sinclair, even if they didn’t always want to talk to me. Those stories where I was able to explore Dayton and interact with the community were among my favorites. Local journalism at its finest.

Photo from Ohio News Media Awards in Columbus, February 2020

Some weeks, I’d get everything written and edited on time, while others I would fall behind. But before long, for whatever reason, the bad weeks began to pile on. As I got older, life got tougher, as it tends to do. 2019 wasn’t the easiest year for me. I was forced to confront many personal demons and struggles common amongst highschoolers but nonetheless hard to work through. And as these personal struggles began to seep into every other aspect of my life, my responsibilities at Sinclair and as a homeschooler began to compound on me. And as the world continued to spin more violently out of control and the news became more alarming, I felt a great sense of despair, similar to what many of us feel today. 

As journalists, we are the bearers of both good and bad news (mostly bad these days). It’s a heavy burden to carry, to put aside our bias or superstition to serve and inform you, the reader, of the facts and not the fiction. We must keep our finger on the pulse of the world, and thus, feel all of its pain and brokenness before anyone else. 

Both my personal pains and not knowing how to fix the pains of the world rendered my heart heavy, the fire in my eyes for journalism began to die. 

During this period of solitude over the past few months, as I watched the world eat itself alive with fear and hatred seemingly everywhere, I was able to truly ponder on what went wrong and where to go next. Was I ever ready for the responsibilities of a leader? I came to the realization that you don’t need all the answers to the world’s problems or your own problems. For years, especially when I became an editor, I have felt as though I need to have all the answers in order to be a good boss. That mindset not only instilled in me a slight sense of haughtiness but a great feeling of shame and self-disgust when I failed.
I now realize that in life, you won’t always have the answers. Even people you think have it figured out are still learning. The “leadership skills” I’ve been searching for can’t be attained over a semester, but rather a lifetime of experiences.

This fall as schools slowly open their doors back up, I strive to further gain those experiences. I will continue to study journalism in its various forms at Cedarville University. There, I will succeed and fail in new and exciting ways, but I’m confident that no matter what this crazy year has in store for us, I’ll attempt to learn from it, not run from it. 

To my fellow journalists at the Clarion, I urge you not to fear failure but learn from all your experiences–both good and bad. For we must face the fact that no matter how many news stories or social media posts we write, we can’t fix all the problems in this world. The best thing we can do to improve the articles we write, as well as the community we share is to strive for self-improvement. You’re never too young or too old to learn, change and grow as a person.

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So to you, the reader, I’d like to thank you for reading my silly little column for the past two years. Through all the highs and lows, it has been my pleasure to inform, challenge and entertain you. Thank you for your support, and Godbless.

“If you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and make a change. WHOOO!” -Michael Jackson

Samuel J. Claude
Contributing Writer

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