Cordes, Schaefer Elks December Students of the Month

MANISTEE — The qualities that the Manistee Elks Lodge No. 250 look for in their Students of the Month program usually are what is found in the leaders of tomorrow.

Two students who fit that description are Brethren High School’s Taylor Cordes and Manistee High School’s Sara Schaefer, who were chosen as the December Students of the Month. Both students are extremely active in their school and communities through a variety of programs and projects.



Qualities that the Elks Student of the Month take under consideration in honoring these students include character, school and community service, leadership and scholastic achievement. Both of the December honorees excel in all of those areas.

Cordes is the daughter of Marlen and Jennifer Cordes and carries a 3.95 grade point average in her studies at Brethren High School.

She has been very active in community and civic activities being a part of the Manistee County Community Foundation Youth Advisory Council, a blood drive coordinator, volunteering for Haley’s Garden and taking part in the SEEDS program.

Cordes also shows her leadership within the hallways of Brethren High School and is the co-president of the National Honor Society, president of the National Art Honor Society and is a member of the student council. She also leads on the athletic and competitive field being captain of the varsity soccer team for three years and captain of the cross country team for two years. She also is captain of the Quiz Bowl team.

Brethren social studies teacher Kyle Griffin praised Cordes for her positive attitude in the classroom where she always gives her best effort.

“Taylor refuses to settle for second best,” said Griffin. “She is never afraid to ask questions, participate, or take risks,” said Griffin. “At times, school seems almost effortless for her, however, despite this fact, she does not shy away from obstacles.”



Griffin served as her cross country coach and said her work ethic is what helps her excel in the sport and be an inspiration for the other team members.

“In cross country she was the one I could rely on to get practice running if I had a meeting after school, even run the practice if I was unable to attend,” said Griffin.

Cordes said she strives to be a very diligent worker, dedicated student and a positive person in life.

“One of the things I take pride in is my work ethic,” she said. “My dedication to this school and all the activities I participate in has no bounds. I give 100 percent into anything I do. As a high school student I believe having the right attitude is half the battle.

Sara Schaefer is the daughter of Jill and Gary Schaefer, of Manistee. She carries a 3.4 grade point average in her studies at Manistee High School.

Schaefer enjoys volunteering to help others and has done so on the Paint the Town Pink event and at the Manitee County Medical Care Facility. She also has been active in Girl Scouts and participates in the Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA) program.

During her high school career, Schaefer has been active in sports taking part in softball, basketball and soccer. She also participates in the Students Against Destructive Decisions group and has served as a teacher’s assistant.

Schaefer said she works hard at doing the best she can do in and out of the classroom.

“In the classroom, I have dedicated my time by staying focused and working hard,” said Schaefer. “I have been a hard worker throughout the four years of high school. I care deeply about my peers and not only strive for success for myself but help others in order for them to succeed as well.”

English teacher Amanda Clemons praised Schaefer as being an outstanding person.

“In the two years I have come to know Sara, she has impressed me with her quiet dedication and strength of character,” said Clemons. “Academically, Sara works hard to do her best. She isn’t afraid to ask questions of her instructors or peers. But what’s better, is that Sara is willing to give the same help freely. She is respected among her peer group and by teachers alike.”

Art teacher Monte Klein has had Schaefer in one of his classes since elementary school.

“Currently, she is studying art in my classroom as a teacher assistant,” said Klein. “She is very organized, prompt and inquisitive.”



Posted by Ken Grabowski

Ken is News Advocate’s education reporter. He coordinates coverage for all Manistee County schools and West Shore Community College. He can be reached by phone at (231) 398-3125 or by email at

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