By Tara Mathews
HOWARD LAKE, MN Sarah “Juliana” Lillehei, of Howard Lake, has been writing since elementary school, and has won awards for her efforts.
Feb. 22, she received a Gold Key, Silver Key, and honorable mention at the 2014 Minnesota Scholastic Arts and Writing Awards, which took place at Perpich Center for Arts Education in Golden Valley.
Lillehei is a senior in literary arts at Perpich Center Arts High School in Golden Valley.
The Gold Key award gives her the opportunity to continue to the national level of competition.
More than 100 visual and literary arts organizations work together to bring the awards to local communities.
Students in grades seven through 12 can submit their work for a chance to win an award.
Winning students can receive scholarships and have their work exhibited or published.
Juliana is the youngest daughter of Richard and Kathleen Lillehei, of Howard Lake.
Richard was a general contractor, and Kathleen was a pre-school teacher.
Juliana has two sisters, Marina, 23, a full-time nanny; and Elena, 20, a member of AmeriCorps.
When Juliana was 12, her mother was diagnosed with brain cancer; and a year later, her mother died.
“We were incredibly close, and this event singly shaped me more than any other,” Juliana said. “Mothers and loss of mothers is a theme consistent throughout my writing.”
Her mother was also a writer, though she never had anything published, according to Juliana.
“She would ask my sisters and I to offer feedback on her stories,” Juliana commented.
Juliana attended Delano High School until 11th grade, and decided to go to Perpich because of the diversity, and the way students are encouraged to express themselves.
“I continue to be in awe of the fantastic teachers at Perpich, from whom students can expect absolute mutual respect,” Juliana stated.
Perpich saved Juliana from neglecting her writing and herself, she said.
Juliana enjoys the friends she has made at Perpich.
“On the most personal level, at Perpich, I made the type of friends I had suspected existed solely in literature and film,” she stated.
Juliana lives in the on-campus dorms at Perpich, and has a roommate, Lizz, she said.
Juliana won awards at the statewide level last year, and also placed nationally, winning the Scholastic National Scholarship from New York Life.
She was the only Minnesota student to win in the national literary category last year.