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Columbia Falls Senior Profile: Helland sets her sights on music and the skies

| May 29, 2024 8:50 AM

By CHRIS PETERSON

Hungry Horse News

It all started with a tuba back in sixth grade. Lotus Helland was enamored by her music teacher’s ability to play the sousaphone — she decided a tuba would be good enough for her.

So she started playing the big instrument, no small feat for a skinny 13-year-old.

Then she picked up a baritone saxaphone and learned to play that.

“I wanted to branch out,” she said.

Later, in high school, she learned to play the drums so she could perform with the school’s Drumline at school events. She also picked up piano, but she admits she’s not that great at it.

“I’m pretty bad at splitting my brain between two hands,” she said with a laugh during a recent interview. Helland is multi-talented for sure.

But this is just the beginning, of course. Helland has been living on her own for the past year. Her family is Jehovah Witnesses and she couldn’t live with the restrictions brought on by the faith, such as no sports and other extracurricular activities (though she could play in the band).Thus her love for music. It was the one way for the teen to get out of the house, she said. 

Music has been a lifeblood and motivation.

“I went to school everyday because I had band class,” she said.

She moved out of the house about a year ago and has been living in Kalispell with roommates. Rent is $450 a month plus utilities. She works several jobs — at Backslope Brewing, Oddfellows Cafe and Bad Rock Books to name a few.

She studies until 1 a.m. most days, then is up for school by 6:45 a.m.

She said she loves her family very much and things have gotten a lot better since she’s left.

The senior plans on attending Montana State University in the fall, but before then, she’s heading to Alaska to work in a salmon processing facility.

Currently she’s driving a 2006 Mercedes Benz, but the car recently had an electrical problem, so she’ll be looking for a car before she leaves.

But her career won’t stop at music, she said. In addition to studying at MSU, she also plans on studying to be a pilot and hopes to someday be accepted to Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and maybe eventually become an FAA air crash investigator. She said she got hooked on the idea watching Mayday: Air Disasters on YouTube.

Her advice to incoming high school students?

”Life is so much bigger than high school,” she said. “Don’t burn yourself out. Don’t give more than you can.”