Liberia: Deputy Speaker to Deliver Keynote Address at CSSA Convention

Deputy Speaker Koffa.

The Deputy Speaker of the 54th Legislature, Cllr. J. Fonati Koffa has been selected to serve as the keynote speaker for the upcoming Cathedral Catholic High School Alumni Association of North America (CSAA) convention scheduled for August 5, in Charlotte, North Carolina, USA.

The convention will bring together over 800 former students, teachers, and staff of the Cathedral Catholic School Alumni Association of Liberia including the members of the school alumni association and relatives and friends.

Accordingly, the CSAA will be celebrating its 27 years of existence of unpaid sacrifices to its alma mater in Liberia. The convention shall review achievements and challenges still facing the organization and the school. 

Some of the contributions of the CSAA to the Cathedral Catholic School are a well-stocked library, a relatively well-equipped science and computer labs, a vibrant financial assistance program, sports materials, and the provision of audiovisual and other educational materials, among others.

For this year’s CSAA Convention, it is expected that the keynote address by Koffa, a 1982 graduate of the school, shall center on the contribution of members of the alumni association toward the development of the Catholic school.

After the keynote address, the conventioneers will enter into discussion segments and execute the probable repeal of the CSAA constitution through a majority vote.

According to the 2022 Convention Committee of CSAA,  Koffa was chosen to serve because of his significant contributions rendered when he served as the founding president of CSAA. He served a three-year tenure.

A statement issued by the CSAA said: “J. Fonati Koffa, Esq. was elected the first national president, and the Association was launched. The very existence of the CSAA today owes much to the selection of Fonati as the president. He was always willing to travel from one location to another to make sure chapters were being formed. The Association was duly incorporated, the treasury started growing as dues came in, and plans were made to hold the second annual Convention in New York."

The CSAA furthered: "When the Cats met in New York in 1997, there was a great air of excitement. At the plenary session, Fonati made what was his most significant contribution by announcing the establishment of the Cathedral School Educational Foundation, and Mr. Robert J. Schwarz was named its first chair, a post he still holds today."

The Deputy  Speaker initiated a rotational convention of the CSAA, and after New York's Convention in 1997, Conventions were held in Atlanta, (1998), Raleigh, (1999), Minnesota, (2000), and Maryland/DC/VA (2001) — attended by the late Archbishop Michael K. Francis.

This year’s Convention is under the presidency of Wede Williams Gant. She was elected in 2021 for a two-year term. Gant is a 1989 graduate of Cathedral High School.

The CSAA Convention is an annual assembly attended by the membership which includes graduates, former students, former teachers, and staff as well as friends and families of former students, teachers, and staff.

The Cathedral Catholic School emerged from St. Patrick’s School. In 1939, Dr. John Collins (after whom Bishop John Collins Teachers College and Bishop John Collins Clinic, Logan Town are named) established St. Patrick’s School where Cathedral School is now located. 

Somewhere between 1951 and 1953, St. Patrick’s School was transferred to the Sinkor campus now occupied by Don Bosco Polytechnic. 

Meanwhile, the Ashmun Street campus served as and was known as St. Patrick’s Elementary School.

However, after sixteen unbroken years of serving as a feeder school for St. Patrick’s High, CCS severed the academic umbilical cord and gained her independence under Sr. Joanita and the Bernardine Sisters in 1968.

Regardless of its short history as a junior high school, Cathedral School has reaped the experience of a succession of renowned administrators. These include Sr. Joanita, who served until December 1972; Sr. Mary Laurene, January – July 1973; Sr. Bernadine, August 1973 – December 1976; Sr. Francella, January – December 1977 and Sr. Rose Gabriel, January 1978, who met her untimely death in September of that same year. 

Remarkably, before she died, she initiated the gradual elevation of the school to the high school level by adding the tenth grade in 1978.

To complete Sr. Rose Gabriel’s term, Sr. Bernadine administered for the second time the affairs of the Cathedral up to the end of 1978.

In 1979, Prof. Stephen Thomas became principal. He served in this capacity up to 1996. During his tenure, several significant developments, both infrastructural and otherwise occurred. These included the renovation of the “old church” to allow Cathedral to continue its expansion to the high school level. It was during his tenure that Cathedral became a full-fledged high school and graduated its first students in 1980.

After the April 6, 1996 fracas, Mr. Siewon Nagbe, current deputy education secretary of the Catholic Education Secretariat, served for a year as principal. At this time, the special ties between the Cathedral School Alumni Association of North America were duly established.

This relationship has yielded significant results during the time of subsequent administrations.