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.
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.
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.
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.”