Editor's note: The following is the fifth in a year-long series of Montana Standard-sponsored Teen of the Month profiles. School officials select each student. At the end of the year, the Standard will award one of the students a scholarship.
Lillian Koefelda, 13, is the first to admit that she has never been a big fan of school in the past. With age comes wisdom, and this straight-A eighth-grade student has come into her own since entering middle school. “I feel like I’ve become more mature. I’m beginning to see that it (school) can get me places in the future,” she said.
For Koefelda, academics come easily. “I’ve been told that I catch on to things easily,” she said. East Middle School Principal Larry Driscoll agrees. “She has excellent grades,” he said. A serious student, Koefelda’s mom, Shawna Gibson, said that her daughter always puts her schoolwork first.
“She’s so dedicated,” she said. And Koefelda’s talents extend beyond the classroom.
“She’s a gifted musician, she’s a songwriter, and she’s won our talent shows several times,” Driscoll said. Despite her accolades, Koefelda remains grounded.
“She’s kind. She helps anybody, anywhere, any time,” Driscoll said.
A creative soul, the favorite “A” on Koefelda’s report card stands for art. Her favorite mediums include watercolor and sketching with pen or pencil. “You can make anything that comes to mind,” she said. Koefelda said that her favorite artists include Spanish painter Pablo Picasso and Italian Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci, who shared her love of art and science.
Koefelda’s passion for the arts spills over into her extracurricular activities, where she devotes much of her free time to her music. “I took eight years of guitar lessons, and I just started piano lessons,” she said. Gibson noticed that her daughter was intrigued by music at a very early age.
“I remember the very first guitar I bought her. She was two or three years old,” she said.
Today, Koefelda writes her own songs, music, and lyrics, which she said would best be described as falling into the indie genre. She said her biggest influence has been acoustic talent Jack Johnson. “He’s been one of my role models and all-time favorites,” she said. His soft rock sound has been an inspiration for her own compositions, which include themes like love, nature, and school.
“Whatever needs to be said,” Koefelda explained.
Though at 13 Koefelda’s a long way from knowing for certain where her dreams and ambitions will take her, she does know that her future endeavors must involve an altruistic mix of art and music.
“I want to help people in some way,” she said.