Seventeen-year-old Mikayla Ripplinger loves to bake, cook and sew and aims to turn her passions into a career as a family and consumer science teacher.
The Legacy High School senior knows her way around a kitchen. In 2017, she won Best in Taste for her peanut butter chocolate cheesecake at the Girl Scouts Death by Chocolate competition.
At 2017’s Cook Around the World in Orlando, Fla., her six-person team won second place in two categories — best side dish and best cupcakes, which she decorated.
Culinary arts have long been an interest of the Bismarck native, who has her food handler certificate and recently compiled all of her family’s favorite recipes into one cookbook.
“It’s just something that’s always kind of come natural to me that I started doing at a young age so I’ve just stuck with it,” she said.
Ripplinger, a straight-A student who’s one of 46 valedictorians this year at Legacy, is this week’s Teen of the Week.
“Mikayla has a positive work ethic, is devoted to mastering the content and has been academically successful from the start,” wrote Legacy High School science teacher Ryan Bleth, in a letter of recommendation. “She has an admirable blend of a desire to understand difficult concepts coupled with a knack for keeping things light and minimizing the visible tension in herself and those closest to her. I have always admired her low-key, high-standards persona.”
Volunteering is of utmost importance to Ripplinger, who is a member of Key Club and the National Honor Society. Since freshman year, she’s spent nearly 400 hours serving her school and community, racking up half of those hours this year alone.
This spring, for the second year in a row, she will receive the National Honor Society’s Outstanding Volunteer Award, which is presented to students who’ve volunteered a minimum of 75 hours in one year’s time.
“It’s important to give back to your community, in general. And it makes you feel better, too, knowing that you’re helping others who might be less fortunate, or just organizations that need help,” she said, noting she volunteers at the Central Dakota Humane Society on a regular basis.
Ripplinger has been in Girl Scouts since kindergarten and has earned her bronze, silver and gold awards. She achieved the latter last summer by leading a group project that entailed resizing blankets donated to the local pound to ensure they fit properly into each kennel.
The senior’s been playing soccer since kindergarten. Last year, she was captain of Legacy’s team.
“I like being outside and doing an outdoor activity with all my friends,” she said.
Last year, she coached fifth-grade volleyball — a sport she played for six years, up until 10th grade. The teen said she enjoyed working with the students and playing the part of teacher.
Ripplinger, the daughter of Nicole and Lyle, plans to attend North Dakota State University this fall to major in family and consumer science education.
She says her greatest achievement, thus far, has been maintaining a 4.0 GPA throughout all of high school while also being involved in extracurricular activities.
“I think it’s important to get good grades because it proves that, when you put your mind to something, you can accomplish it. Because you really have to apply yourself, especially with two AP classes like I’m taking. You have to put in the time and the effort outside of that class to be able to continue to get good grades in it,” she said.
In her spare time, she enjoys cooking, sewing, doing crafts and puzzles and spending time with animals, especially her black lab, Max.
The teen offers the following advice to underclassmen: “Just continue to work hard and always push yourself. Never give up.”