Live Like Lilliana

Her smile was contagious

Her beauty immeasurable                                                        

And as everyone who knew her can attest

She was fierce


A lover and a fighter

And she never gave less than her best.

There are not enough words in the English language to describe the miracle that was

Lilliana Schalk, and trying to condense her life into just a book, let alone an article is almost impossible.

Poetry, stories, pictures, and music barely seem to touch the raw beauty that she possessed. Yet, as hard to describe her as it may be, we must try. We must try for the people who knew her all their life and for the people that never will. All we have now are stories and memories but we also have the way she touched all of our hearts, whether she meant to or not. Below, are stories told by people whose lives have been forever touched by Lilliana.  


Ryan Augustin, Lilliana’s 8th grade teacher:

“It is difficult to put into words the type of person Lilliana was, but the first word that comes to mind is grit. To give an example, towards the beginning of school, we had a pretty substantial group project, and Lilliana’s group was falling behind. She was the only one in her group to come after school for two days straight to work on the project by herself. There were times where I literally had to force her to leave because I needed to get home. And when it was time for her group to present they did phenomenal. Of course, everyone knew Lilliana did all the work, but when I asked her about it she didn’t take more credit than anyone else”


Anne Exterkamp, Freshman, Cheered with Lilliana:

“When we had the banquet for cheer she was “feeling herself” so she stared in the mirror for forever just looking at her hair and her face. She was so happy that night.”


Paxton Caldwell, Junior, cheered with Lilliana:

“One day at practice Lilliana was really upset. So, I went over to figure out what was wrong. She didn’t want to talk at first but I was stubborn and wouldn’t let it go because I hated to see her sweet self upset. Eventually she told me. She was upset because she was disappointed in herself for the way she had spoken to another cheerleader at practice. I kind of smiled and laughed when she told me because of how innocent and selfless it was. At such a young age, she was so wise and mature. She hated making mistakes and she always worked hard to fix them. If she were ever to hurt anyone’s feelings she could not let it go because that’s just who she was.”


Samantha Mills, Junior, Cheered with Lilliana:

“Every single practice she would never forget to give me a hug with her huge smile and ask how my day was.”


Candice Dillon, Senior, cheered with Lilliana:

“My favorite memory of Lilliana is when she looked at me after finals crying and gave me the biggest hug because she didn’t want to leave and how she was going to miss me.”


Miki Beier, Lilliana’s Cheer coach:

“Lilliana was more than a talented, dedicated, hard-working cheerleader. She was so much more than a teammate, leader, and a source of knowledge on the sport. Lilliana was the most amazing human being I have ever met. At 13, she had a life that many of us only dream of one day achieving. She was one of the most amazing adolescents to walk this earth.

We are all better people because we had the honor of knowing and being loved by Lilliana. There was a side of Lilliana that I didn’t even realize until now. The amount of lives she touched with a simple “hello” or “have a great day,” was astonishing.  

We all have heard the saying, “small acts of kindness make the world go ‘round.” Yet, how many of us truly live that? Lilliana did. The glass was always half full. She was the sunshine in someone’s day each and every day, simply because she lived life looking at the positives.”


Lilliana fought to be better at everything she did and from her we can learn to do the same. From her we can learn to be better athletes, better students, better people. It will be hard. Living like Lilliana is something we may never achieve, but remember that Lilliana is still with us and her famous words still linger, “you’ve got this, I love you.” And with her in our corner how could we ever fail?

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