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Liberian president visits Tampa's Berkeley Prep

Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf poses with the Berkeley Preparatory School elementary choir in Tampa after arriving at the private school Friday morning. [MARTHA RIAL | Times]

TAMPA -- The president has arrived.

Amid blaring bagpipes and a contingent of Secret Service agents talking into their sleeves, Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf came to the leafy campus of Berkeley Preparatory School this morning to visit classes and address the high school division.

Her welcome by the private school's Pipe and Drum Corps only added to the unreality of welcoming a visiting head of state. One student could be seen popping his head out of a music class to catch a glimpse of the commotion, but his teacher quickly pulled him back inside.

Sirleaf, who was elected to the top job of the West African nation in 2005, was scheduled to visit a middle school French class and deliver a speech to the upper school. She will also deliver the commencement address tomorrow at the University of Tampa.

Why Berkeley Prep? President Sirleaf has a connection. Her honorary consul in Tampa, David A. Straz, Jr., sends his daughter to the school, said communications director Heather Mackin. Such are the perks of being an honorary consul.

For updates and more information, visit the Gradebook at or read tomorrow's St. Petersburg Times.

Tom Marshall, Times Staff Writer

[Last modified: Tuesday, May 25, 2010 10:23am]


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