2023 Students of Distinction

Mackenzie Schuller has a sweet future ahead

Posted on May 12th, 2023 By:

Gig Harbor Now is posting profiles of each of the Students of Distinction being honored by the Greater Gig Harbor Foundation. The students will be honored during a banquet from 6 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, May 17, 2023, at Ocean5, 5268 Point Fosdick Dr.

Student: Mackenzie Schuller

School: Peninsula High School, West Sound Tech, Olympic College

Category: Career and Technical Excellence Achievement

Mackenzie Schuller loves to cook. Specifically, she loves to bake.

She knew, early on, that she wanted a career in a kitchen. She also realized that “traditional” high school courses weren’t the best path to a career as a chef, so in her junior year she enrolled in the Culinary Arts program at West Sound Technical Skills Center. She also has taken classes in Olympic College’s program since 2022 while also attending PHS.

She grew up helping her mother modify recipes and find ways to cook without eggs. So when Mackenzie discovered that she, too, has an egg allergy, she decided that being a pastry chef and owning her on egg-free bakery was what she wanted to do.

Excelling at West Sound Tech

She has taken courses in food preparation, nutrition and meal planning, dining room service, sustainable food systems, international cuisine and other culinary studies, and won the Top Student Award at West Sound Tech in Bremerton in grade 11.

She also helped cater events for the USS Theodore Roosevelt Navy crew holiday party and several events at Olympic College in Bremerton.

The CTE category celebrates non-traditional ways of learning and it has been an ideal “fix” for Mackenzie.

“The CTE courses have been instrumental in helping me find my passion in the kitchen,” she said. “When I took an Ethnic Foods class at Peninsula in my sophomore year, I realized my passion for baking and decided that’s what I want to do professionally.”

First she studied at West Sound Tech. Then to learn more, she enrolled in Olympic College’s culinary program through Running Start. “This program has been challenging and informative and has allowed me to gain valuable experience in the kitchen,” she said. It has also given her opportunities to teach her classmates about egg allergies and substitutes.

Pastry chef

She plans to finish her culinary certificate at Olympic College next year and continue on to a specialized pastry school.

Chef Chris Plemmons, chief instructor in Olympic College’s Culinary Arts program calls Mackenzie a good student “who does well both in the paper-and-pencil book work and in a hands-on lab setting.”

The Students of Distinction committed noted that Mackenzie “doesn’t let academic barriers slow her from seeking other opportunities. She followed her passion and searched for ways to achieve success through baking.” They were impressed with “her passion and drive, especially when it comes to succeeding in the niche baking category of artistic creations and allergy-safe foods.”

Mackenzie Schuller

Parents: Sharla & Chris Schuller

Achievements: Top student Award – West Sound Tech, grade 11; prepped food and event room for catering service events for USS Theodore Roosevelt Navy crew holiday party, Olympic College events honoring contributors to the culinary program, Maynard’s holiday event

Best thing about PHS: “The variety of class options beyond academic requirements. We have the opportunity to take a wide range of classes including art, cooking, mechanics, drafting and many others. This allows students to explore their interests and develop new skills beyond the traditional academic subjects.

“The school’s strong sense of school spirit and pride is also one of its best features. My classmates are so enthusiastic about representing their school. This creates a sense of community and encourages students to support each other both in and out of the classroom.”