An Editor’s Note: thank you and farewell


Marc Mellits

Mara Mellits on the sideline of the Lane Tech v. Lincoln Park football game on September 18, 2021

By Mara Mellits, Editor-in-Chief

Mara Mellits is The Champion’s Co-Editor-in-Chief for The Champion’s 2021-22 staff. Previously, she was an Assistant Editor and a Reporter for the 2020-21 staff. 

My hands were freezing and quickly turning numb, despite that it was May, but my fingers stayed out in the cold, constant on the camera button, producing a “click click” that I had grown accustomed to. 

This moment could be attributed to many memories of this past year, but this was one of the last sports games I covered in my time with The Champion. It was also from one of my favorite games that I covered, to be buried away into Mara Mellits’s “High School Sports Games Hall of Fame.” It was none other than the Boys Lacrosse City Championship game versus Whitney Young. 


At the end of the game, the boys ran out onto the field, throwing their sticks into the air and forming a circle. Their cheers intensified when they lifted the City Championship plaque into the air. 

After their celebrations, a few of the star players (that we had interviewed in the past) ran over to one of our reporters and me, begging for an interview.

“I bet you want to interview me, don’t you?” one player arrogantly said, flashing his smile and coolly arching his shoulders back. 

I rolled my eyes, but behind the annoyed expression, I was laughing. After he finished, a couple of players ran up to us and started speaking into the phone — not waiting for a question, just speaking their thoughts on the game. 

This was the first city title I captured, a fitting way for my tenure to end. But covering sports this year was also a fruition to a lifelong dream.  

When I was younger, I dreamed of becoming an ESPN sports broadcaster. So when Lane’s 2021-22 football season started, I knew I had to be there on the sidelines. And I was, for every home and playoff game after that.

In the beginning, I was desperate. I needed to cover the next game, but there was already a football beat reporter. So I suggested that I take pictures — maybe a couple to go along with the article. I assumed I would take them with my phone, but someone on the staff suggested that I use a camera. Even though I had no camera experience, I needed to be on that field. Which meant I captured my first game in Acute Aperture mode even though I had no idea what that meant — it was just the least blurry mode. 

Thankfully, the pictures came out perfect. Well, at least for it being my first time ever doing photography. But as I was running in between the stands and the field, capturing the fans on both sides and the game, I realized that there was nothing more I wanted to do than journalism. I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to go into specifically but I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life telling stories. And by interacting with the players and the fans for every game, it made the story easy to write.

Later that night, I canceled my upcoming SAT and decided to make a commitment to everything involving the paper. 

I haven’t always known what I want to do with my life, and maybe that’s what makes me unique from my peers. I didn’t come to Lane because they have the best paper in the city, I came to Lane because of the immense opportunities available. I came into it completely blind, but by the end, my entire life changed. In just a year on the staff, I became Editor-in-Chief. Suddenly, everything was different. 

That year, I decided to emphasize the important stories around Lane and it paid off.

To everyone’s surprise, including my own, I was named Chicago’s High School Journalist of the Year. To the outside world, it seemed like all those late nights spent on deadlines or at games or writing stories were worth it. To my parents, it meant that pursuing a journalism degree was now worth it. But for me, with or without the award, my love for storytelling is the same.  

That love came from reading, and it transcended into writing. But I wouldn’t have known that unless I joined the staff.

On March 13, 2020, my last normal day of high school and course selection day, my best friend and I sat in the library scrolling through available English electives. I was all set up to take Writing Center — a teacher recommendation and support in hand. Already, I had people coming up to me and asking if they could use me as their tutor for next year.

But to my surprise — Writing Center was already filled up. I checked my second choice elective — no spots available. Desperately, I searched through the English electives, hoping to find one. 

“That one has a couple spots left.”

I looked over to what my friend was pointing at: Journalism. Disappointed, I signed up for the class and wrote my counselor a lengthy email begging to be put in Writing Center if a spot opened up. 

But I never hit send.

What I’ve learned in my two short years as a high school journalist is how isolating it can be. Countless late nights at school, many sleepless nights. Maybe that’s why we surround ourselves with each other — becoming such close friends because there’s no one else like us. 

Because we aren’t writing and investigating these stories for ourselves — we’re doing it for you: the school community. So it’s when someone from outside our bubble — someone from the school community notices and appreciates our work — that it makes it all worth it. 

I don’t know if it’s my own bias or because I’ve started paying attention, but I believe that The Champion has made its impact on everyone in school this year, from students to staff to the administration and even parents and alumni. 

We came into this year ambitious, and I believe because of that, we’ve written important stories happening around the school. And I believe our audience has grown as well. Maybe it’s because we started printing more issues or maybe it’s because our Instagram (running The Champion Instagram has to be one of my favorite parts of being Editor-in-Chief so follow us if you’re not already) grew tremendously this year (in late August 2021, we had 885 followers, and as of May 15 we have 1,539). By constantly reminding people who we are, and that we exist, we’ve made ourselves more accessible to readers.

By covering a wide range of stories from sports to local breaking news to profiles on particular subjects, compelling opinions on current events and reviews of the newest media, we’ve made ourselves the place for students’ news. 

In all, my time as Editor-in-Chief hasn’t been perfect. This letter might seem that way, but I’ve reconsidered many times this year if this is the right career path for me. But seeing the impact it has on you — students, teachers, parents and alumni — I wouldn’t change anything. 

So I leave you with this one last challenge: be curious and look for the hidden story. Maybe I’ve inspired you to go to a Friday night football game (although the basketball and lacrosse games are equally as fun) or perhaps talk to someone new. Everyone has a story to share. 

I hope you enjoy your own journey, but as for me, I’m going to be letting go. I thought I’d stay in Chicago forever, but come next fall, I’m going to be in a new city, uncovering and exploring the stories I never would have if I stayed.  

Best of luck,

Mara Mellits, Editor-in-Chief 2021-22