The Student News Site of Alexandria City High School

Theogony

The Student News Site of Alexandria City High School

Theogony

The Student News Site of Alexandria City High School

Theogony

The End of an Era

The End of an Era

Theogony Volunteer Advisor Steps Down

Nora Malone

Editor

As the year winds down, Theogony says goodbye to a vital member. Mick Heller, a retired journalist, has been volunteering to assist student journalists since 2017. Heller worked on The Baltimore Sun and The Washington Times before becoming a sports copy editor at The Washington Post for 15 years. A California native, Heller attended the University of the Pacific before beginning his career.

Heller has spent the past six years assisting in all aspects of Theogony. He worked with the previous advisor Mark Eaton for four years, and the current advisor Kamilah Lawson for two years. In those six years, he has made a lasting impact on every student who heeded his advice, as well as Theogony as a whole. 

“Mr. Heller, along with Mr. Eaton, have had more impact on me as a student and as a person than any other teacher I’ve been around. I learned what it meant to be a journalist, [to] always to pursue the story with 100% integrity and [to] never let any outside interference get in my way,” said Hunter Langley, class of 2021. Langley himself has visited Theogony to assist students since his graduation.

Heller’s advice has been instrumental to students well into their future.  

“He has valuable insight, gave great advice, and ultimately contributed to the positive working atmosphere of the Theogony lab,” said Lauren Larson, class of 2021, “I am sad that my time working with him was cut short in high school due to the pandemic, but the skills he taught me are ones that I still use as a sophomore in college today.” 

Heller decided to volunteer for Theogony at his son’s suggestion, giving himself something to do during his retirement.

“I remember the first time that I met Mr. Heller, when he came to see me about signing on as a Theogony volunteer.  He always seemed to say exactly the right thing at exactly the right time. I was very fortunate to work with him, and I was particularly impressed with his steadfast commitment–we knew that we would see him exactly when he said he would be with us,” said Eaton, who began teaching at ACHS in 2007 after a career as a lawyer and nine years on the School Board. He retired at the end of the 2020-2021 school year. 

“He’s been a great sounding board for me and is so sincere in his advice to our students,” said Lawson. 

Heller is not only a journalist, but an author. His book, Mick’s Bag, came out in 2019. The book is  a collection of satirical short stories that poke fun at serious situations. 

“I still have his book on my shelves, through multiple moves from home to college and back again,” said Sadie Finn, class of 2020. “I am so grateful to him for lending us not only his expertise but also his witty and charming personality.”

“He was always someone to go to with questions,” said Abigail St. Jean, class of 2021, “His advice helped me pick what college to attend.”

Heller’s impact is undeniable. There has yet to be a Theogony member who leaves without a positive memory with him.

“It was a tremendous privilege for me to have met him, and I really appreciate his advice and support while I worked for Theogony. Mr. Heller was always accessible, eager to help, and if you’ve talked to him, you would know that he is a true genius!” said Peerawut Ruangsawasdi, class of 2022. 

“He was our biggest supporter,” said junior Chloe Yokitis, next year’s co-editor-in-chief, “He gave us tips on how to become better writers and [gave us] edits on how to improve our articles and the print edition without ever overstepping or making the articles his rather than ours.” 

Heller has not only been an advisor but also a friend to many Theogony members. Graduates from years past remember him well.

“I will never forget him simply just asking me about how I was doing, or bonding with the editors in the lab, especially when he helps our paper out simply in his free time,” said editor Emily Milton, class of 2023. 

“Even to this day, now that I’m on my college newspaper, Mr. Heller has reached out a couple times after reading my articles, and it means the world.” said Kate Casper, class of 2020. “Mr. Heller’s role is not confined to the Theogony lab; he will always be someone I can reach out to if I need anything. He’s truly a light.”

Heller has made a big impact on students in his final year on Theogony. Future editor James Libresco said, “Mr. Heller has always been an amazing resource for me, not only because of his vast knowledge on how to run a newspaper, but also the human level and [with the] friendship he brings. I am going to very much miss his stories about the Washington Post and talking with him about the Warriors after every game.”

“He is truly part of the foundation of this paper, and I wish him only the best as he steps away,” said junior and future co-editor-in-chief Yahney-Marie Sangaré, “Thank you sincerely and totally for all you have done. The next generations of Theogony will hear about you regularly and fondly.”

Read Full Quotes Below:

Mark Eaton:

“I remember the first time that I met Mr. Heller when he came to see me about signing on as a Theogony volunteer.  He always seemed to say exactly the right thing at exactly the right time.  I was very fortunate to work with him and I was particularly impressed with his steadfast commitment–we knew that we would see him exactly when he said he would be with us.  You cannot know Mr. Heller without enjoying his often sly sense of humor.  He has made a very valuable contribution to Theogony and he has a lot of fans, including me.”

Kamilah Lawson: 

“Having Mr. Heller as a volunteer advisor the past two years has been very helpful for me transitioning the newspaper from Mr. Eatons tutelage to my own. We’ve become friends and I see the joy he brings our students. He’s been a greeting sounding board for me and is so sincere in his advice to our students. He’ll be greatly missed, but I’m excited for this next phase in his life and being able to spend more time with his family and doing whatever pleases him.”

Hunter Langley, ‘21:

“Mr Heller along with Mr Eaton have had more impact on me as a student and as a person than any other teacher I’ve been around. I learned what it meant to be a journalist, always to pursue the story with 100% integrity and never let any outside interference get in my way. These lessons and many others have helped me greatly since graduating and I credit him and Mr. Eaton for a majority of my success past high school. I hope he has a phenomenal retirement because nobody deserves it more. Mazel Tov, Mr. Heller!” 

Lauren Larsen, ‘21:

“I look back at my time working on Theogony not just with Mr. Eaton, but with Mr. Heller too, very fondly. Mr. Heller was instrumental in helping the staff produce a professional and informative issue of the newspaper each month. He has valuable insight, gave great advice, and ultimately contributed to the positive working atmosphere of the Theogony lab. I am sad that my time working with him was cut short in high school due to the pandemic, but the skills he taught me are ones that I still use as a sophomore in college today. The Theogony team will not be the same without him, but I hope he knows the positive contributions he made will have a lasting mark on Theogony. Thank you Mr. Heller and best of luck on your future endeavors!” 

Peerawut Ruangsawasdi, ‘22:

“Mr. Heller was one of the most influential mentors I’ve ever had. He was truly dedicated, kind-hearted, witty, and all around a great person to work with. It was a tremendous privilege for me to have met him and I really appreciate his advice and support while I worked for Theogony. Mr. Heller was always accessible, eager to help, and if you’ve talked to him, you would know that he is a true genius! I wish him well in his future endeavors and the paper was so incredibly lucky to have had him as an advisor.” 

Sadie Finn, ‘20

“Mr Heller was invaluable during my experience in Theogony. he was always around to help us out, from brainstorming to final edits. I am so grateful to him for lending us not only his expertise, but also his witty and charming personality. One of my favorite memories with Mr Heller was when his book came out, and we got to throw a release day party!  I still have his book on my shelves, through multiple moves from home to college and back again. thank you Mr Heller!” 

Abigail St. Jean, ‘21:

“Mr. Heller was an amazing help at Theogony when I was there! He was always someone to go to with questions and his advice helped me pick what college to attend. I looked forward to seeing him in class.”

Kate Casper, ‘21:

“Mr. Heller has been such a cheerleader and such a great help with Theogony for years. I remember first starting on the paper and him always being so willing to help and give advice to encourage us to produce good journalism. We all loved his little anecdotes from his career at the beginning of class. I am so grateful for him for always being in my corner and always being willing to offer a helping hand. I remember when he released his book ‘Mick’s Bag’ a couple years ago, we all threw him a surprise party, and he was overjoyed. Being able to give back to him in this small way meant the world to us. I remember really struggling to work on the paper my senior year during COVID, and Mr. Heller was the person I went to to talk about these challenges. He was so helpful and kind, and especially, empathetic. He was always ‘good cop.’ Even to this day, now that I’m on my college newspaper, Mr. Heller has reached out a couple times after reading my articles, and it means the world. Mr. Heller’s role is not confined to the Theogony lab, he will always be someone I can reach out to if I need anything. He’s truly a light.” 

James Libresco, ‘25:

“Throughout my short time in Theogony, Mr Heller has always been an amazing resource for me, not only because of his vast knowledge on how to run a newspaper, but also the human level and friendship he brings. I am going to very much miss his stories about the Washington Post and talking with him about the Warriors after every game. Thank you Mr. Heller!” 

Yahney-Marie Sangaré, ‘24:

“Mr. Heller is a truly incredible human being. He has guided us through so many changes, been attentive, selfless, and encouraging. He is the sort of human being you are lucky to meet once in a lifetime, and we are very blessed by his talents being shared with us here. I will truly miss his presence, guidance, and kindness. He is truly part of the foundation of this paper and I wish him only the best as he steps away. Thank you sincerely and totally for all you have done. The next generations of Theogony will hear about you regularly and fondly.” 

Emily Milton, ‘23:

“Mr. Heller has always made sure to support editors and staff writers in both their journalism and their personal passions. He is always interested to hear how a School Board meeting went, or even pick my brain on decisions happening in the schools. Not only is he a fantastic writer and gives great writing advice, he genuinely cares about us as students and our futures. He has been a constant positive force on Theogony with advisor turnovers, editor turnovers and adjustments to different styles of production. I will never forget him simply just asking me about how I was doing, or bonding with the editors in the lab, especially when he helps our paper out simply in his free time. He has been a signature piece of the Theogony production, we could not have done it without him. It will be a tremendous loss for future students, but I could not be more thankful for his dedication to our paper!” 

Chloe Yokitis, ‘24:

“Meeting and working with Mr. Heller is absolutely one of my favorite parts of working on Theogony. He is one of the most friendly people I know, and even though he was a volunteer, he showed up to every class more than any of us, knew everyone’s names, read everyone’s articles, and listened to and remembered every story we told. He was our biggest supporter. He gave us tips on how to become better writers and edits on how to improve our articles and the print edition without ever overstepping or making the articles his rather than ours. Mr. Heller was also just so fun to chat with, and he would always pull the funniest one-liners out of nowhere. He was really clever and it was always a blast to talk to him. He has a big heart and cared so much about not just the paper but us as students, and that not just made us feel appreciated but brought everyone on staff together. Thank you so much, Mr. Heller!! We wouldn’t be here without you.” 

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The End of an Era