P.O. Box 970943
Miami, FL 33197

954 708-0363

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By: Carol Provost (Class of 1976)

On a May day in 1880, Mary Ann Justina (Jessie) Ripoll, Jamaican-born young woman of mixed heritage (African, French and Portuguese) purchased Alpha cottage on 43 acres in Kingston.  She made the purchase for the sum of £800, her accumulated savings and gifts.  By so doing, she embarked on a mission that would change the lives of many young men and women and impact lives worldwide.  So very humbly was born the impressive and magnificent Alpha legacy.

Ten years later, on December 12, 1890, a small group from the Sisters of Mercy from the Sisters of Mercy led by Mother Winifred Furlong arrived in Jamaica and established the order there.  The order had been founded in Ireland on December 12, 1831 by Catherine McAuley.  In 1894, the sisters established the Convent of Mercy Academy from the seed of Alpha, which Jessie Ripoll and her two friends, Josephine Ximines and Louise Dugiol had planted and nurtured fourteen years prior.  The three young women entered the order and became Sister Mary Peter Claver, Sister Margaret Mary and Sister Joseph, respectively.

The little cottage with one orphan grew into a complex that, in addition to the girl's academy, included Infant, Primary, Preparatory, Boarding, Boys' and Commercial Schools, plus Christ the King Chapel.  By its centennial milestone in 1980, Alpha Academy had garnered a reputation as one of the island's premier all-girls schools, an institution of impeccable repute.  It stands as the bastion, epitomizing the best of Jamaican education.

Throughout the years Alpha has weathered many storms, literally and figuratively.  The great Kingston earthquake and fire of 1907, Hurricane Charlie (1951), Gilbert (1988) and Ivan (2004), also changes in government, mass migration of alumnae, "brain drain", education crises, and funding shortfalls have and continue to be faced.  In the year 2000, an Alpha Icon, the beloved Monkey Tamarind Baobab, estimated at 200 years old, was felled due to unsalvageable internal damage.  In the epitome of true Alpha style, a young Baobab tree was grown from the seed to take us into the next 200 years.  And yet, we persevere.

In the year 2008, Convent of Mercy Academy "Alpha" was 128 years old -- one-hundred and twenty-eight.  This is forever who we are: the massive double gates with wrought-iron arch, the imposing drive, McAuley Hall, Christ the King Chapel, the Sisters of Mercy.  The white midi blouses and navy blue tunics and skirts (two inches below the knee!).  The books and the lessons, Cambridge G.C.E.’s.  Our beloved teachers and schoolmates.  Aspirations strived for and wisdom imparted.  This is the aura; this is the mantle of Alpha:  Ad Verum Et Bonum!

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son,
 that whoever believeth in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
John 3:16


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