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Patricia Lee,

Jennifer Figueroa,
 Vice President

Addy Chin-Ogilvie,

Esperanza Andrade,

If you would like to submit
Articles or items of interest,
 please contact

Carol Provost

Addy Chin-Ogilvie at




The Good and True
Official Newsletter of
Convent of Mercy Academy “Alpha” Association, Inc.
Florida Chapter

December 2008

Young Lions: The next generation of Alpha Academy alumnae stops to pose as they discuss
issues and future plans with CMAA Florida Chapter president Patsy Lee (Yee, Class of ’67)

Hello, Chapter Members and all the Alpha Family!  This holiday edition is the final C.M.A.A. Florida Chapter Newsletter for 2008. We hope it finds you happy, healthy and blessed!   

As usual, much is afoot. In this issue:

The highlight of this issue is the visit to Alpha by C.M.A.A. Florida Chapter members in October. This much-anticipated “field trip” was a heart-swelling, tremendous success, filled with good vibes and a healthy serving of nostalgia. See spotlight reports and picture gallery* of the visit in this issue.
CMAA at the
Jamaican Jerk Festival in Broward County. See spotlight report and picture gallery.
“Ask Sister Bernadette”—it may not be what you think...
Meet the new Campus Minister
House News—Were you in Claver House?


What a rousing and eventful weekend!  It was filled with warm moments, moving stories and meaningful, productive discourse. Principal Singh and Alpha faculty and staff welcomed and feted us genially. The local (Jamaica) chapter, led by President Gloria Palomino is, like us, motivated and means business! Plans were brought to fruition and new plans were made. We are elated about working with the ladies of the Jamaica Crew. Here’s some of what we did that weekend:

Met Principal Singh, Faculty, Staff and Students
Ribbon Cutting and Opening Ceremony for The Father Henry Williams Multi- Media Centre
Met the new Campus Minister

Attended Alpha’s annual Prize-Giving

Celebrated Mass at Christ the King Chapel
Hosted a Meet, Greet and Eat with the JA. Chapter, Faculty, Staff and Sister Bernadette
Awarded the inaugural Sister Mary Bernadette Little, R.S.M. Academic Scholarship
Introduced the Big Sister/Little Sister Programme
Toured the campus and basked in the warm glow of Sister Bernadette’s loving gaze

Chapter president Patsy Lee and Principal Singh in front of the
young Monkey Tamarind tree on the site of the old McCauley Hall





Alpha’s current principal, Mr. M. Singh took time out of his busy shedule to give us a brief tour of the campus. He addressed many of our questions and saw to it that the head custodian himself installed the Multi-Media Centre plaque as soon as it arrived.


It’s finally up and running! The equipment is installed, the ribbon cut and the speeches made. Rumour has it that Father Williams (in his classically understated manner) is really quite impressed. Kudos to the classes of the 70’s and everyone who was involved. Thanks to Principal Singh and his team for their efforts to help us bring this project to fruition.  Special thanks to Rheta Chen for her liaising efforts between the C.M.A.A. Florida Chapter and the school administration. Way to support your school, ladies! Magnificent job!

You Are Here

Addy Chin-Ogilvie, 70’s Summer Reunion Committee
Chairperson, performs ribbon- cutting honours

Principal Singh presents Addy and Committee members with a commemorative plaque


Upon meeting Alpha’s Campus Minister Mrs. Velia Ann Espeut, one is impressed by her welcoming manner, definitive character and open-heartedness.  Barely into her tenure as Alpha’s Campus Minister, Mrs. Espeut (“Miss V.” to her young charges), already has a fast-paced, jam-packed-eventful daily schedule. During the course of her day she dons many hats: campus minister, student advocate, teacher, singing and voice coach. She seems to stretch 24 hours in order to fit more, and it was difficult to keep up with her as she moved seamlessly from one activity to the next. And everywhere we went, an almost constant hail of student greetings met her. Her offices are located in what was the music/band building, next to the Walkers (caretaker’s) cottage. There are quiet places, mediation/conference rooms and an altar, at the foot of which is a rapidly-depleting basket of rosaries. Mrs. Espeut is the wife of Deacon Peter Espeut. This Trinidad-born, Jamaican-adopted, angelic-voiced Alpha family member is innovative, resourceful and pragmatic. She voices her concerns and hopes for the student body in a forthright manner, and brings viable ideas to the table. Her purposeful determination, commitment and genuine concern for Alpha Academy and its students is most needed and appreciated. Welcome, Miss V! You are valued for all you do for Alpha and her students.

Mrs.Velia Espeut surrounded by some of her loving
 charges at Prize-Giving

Mrs. Velia Espeut serenading Sister Bernadette at the Saturday Brunch
with her rendition of The Wind Beneath My Wings




We attended Prize-Giving on Friday evening, October 24th in McCauley Hall. Chapter members Patsy Lee, Addy Chin-Ogilvie, Carol Provost and Jennifer Figueroa were privileged to be asked to present awards. McCauley Hall was filled with parents and families who roundly supported all awardees.



Saturday morning Mass was celebrated by the Very Rev. Fr. Kenneth D. Richards, Rector of Holy Trinity Cathedral.  In attendance were alumnae from both the Florida and Jamaica chapters, Sister Bernadette, nuns in residence at the convent and Sister Marie, who provided musical accompaniment. Father Richards’ homily was appropriate and spiritually uplifting



After Mass, the Florida and Jamaica Chapters met over a savoury and traditional buffet brunch in the library. As a group, we discussed a wide range of topics and issues, and then opened the floor for discussion. Mrs. Espeut, the Campus Minister and Ms. Christie, the Guidance Counsellor both spoke eloquently and made suggestions and recommendations. We introduced the Big Sister/Little Sister Programme and awarded the inaugural Sister Mary Bernadette Little, R.S.M. Academic Scholarship.


Big Sister / Little Sister Programme

In an effort to provide mentoring and foster links between the current and previous generations of Alpha girls, we introduced our Big Sister/Little Sister Programme. The concept is for as many alumnae as possible to establish a mentoring relationship with a “Little Sister”, from a pool of the most eligible girls, compiled by an Alpha-based selections committee. The program will by no means pre-empt or replace parental duties, nor is a mentor expected to provide any sort of financial input. The idea is to nurture and groom young ladies who may benefit from such a relationship as that which a “Big Sister” could provide.  This programme is in the teething stages and we will keep you up to date as time progresses. Please email us at  with questions or suggestions, or to sign up for this innovative, worthwhile program.


The Sister Mary Bernadette Little, R.S.M. Academic Scholarship

The inaugural presentation of the Sister Mary Bernadette Little, R.S.M. Academic Scholarship meant something truly special to not one, but two newly-minted Alpha alumnae. At the request of Sister Bernadette, for this one time, the scholarship was split to accommodate two very worthy young ladies. Tavia Daley and Niesha Doyle both expressed deep appreciation and gratitude at being chosen. Their heartfelt words made for moist eyes, as many were touched by their speeches. Each young lady received a scholarship valued at US$2,250 ($750 annually for three years). Both have just begun their first year at the University of the West Indies. Next year’s standard scholarship will be awarded to one upper-sixth form student and is valued at $3,000(U.S.), ---$1,000 annually for a maximum of 3 years-- to an for a tertiary institution in Jamaica or abroad.

Tavia Daley , co-recipient of the inaugural Sr.  Mary Bernadette Little, R.S.M. Academic Scholarship

Niesha Doyle, co-recipient of the inaugural Sr.  Mary Bernadette Little, R.S.M. Academic Scholarship

 After our brunch meeting, many lingered, catching up, chatting-- continuing the threads of multiple discussions. Some walked the campus, touring as they talked. As alumnae gradually dispersed to resume their daily lives, it was the hope of many that these threads would weave into ropes that would bind us, one to the other, to carry on the Alpha tradition and make the Alpha legacy stronger.




Calling All Claver Girls!

C.M.A.A. was extremely dismayed and perturbed to learn that Claver house no longer exists!  Students stated that Claver (referred to only as “brown house”) had been eliminated. Is this so? How could this be? This must be rectified. This house was named for Mother Peter Claver, the foundress of Alpha, no less! The discarding of Mother Claver’s house seems metaphorical and symbolic--- the church leaving the school and the school leaving its history and tradition. Hopefully no other houses will suffer the same fate. Claver girls! Want your house back?


Colours Replace House Names

Additionally, much to our chagrin, Alpha’s house names, designated for major religious patrons with worldwide Christian significance, are apparently are no longer in use. Houses were heard referred to only as colours, e.g. “purple house” instead of “Lisieux”, or “yellow house” instead of “Lourdes”. Students did not seem to even know the names of the Patrons for which their houses were named, nor their histories. This seems to be a further diminishing of Christian influences from our Catholic schools, along with the shortage of nuns, priests and church members. It is hoped the current administration will investigate and address this.

(Note: Just prior to press time we learned that Alpha administration is looking into these house matters. Stay tuned...)

House Name Significance/Patron Nemed For Colour
Claver (defunct) Mother Peter Claver (foundress of Alpha) Brown
Orleans Joan of Arc (the Maid of Orleans) White
Lourdes Saint Bernadette Soubirous Yellow
Florez Saint Rose of Lima Red
Goretti Saint Maria Goretti Pink
Lisieux Saint Therese of Lisieux Purple
Vatican Saint Agnes of Rome Green
Fatima Our Lady of Fatima Blue

Famous Claver-ites like Teresa (Terry) Thompson (L) and
 Adrienne (Addy) Chin- Ogilvie (R) no longer belong to an existing house


Calling All Tennis Players!!

The tennis programme at Alpha is currently non-existent. The courts are net-less, in disuse, and in woefully dilapidated disrepair. There is no budget for refurbishing and maintaining the courts, or for a tennis coach. Is there any interest at the school level to restart the tennis programme? What If Alpha has the next great tennis phenom just waiting to be discovered and nurtured? Suppose Usain Bolt’s or Veronica Campbell-Brown’s high schools had had no Track and Field programmes? Perhaps this is a future project? Look out, Venus and Serena!

Tennis, anyone?

Prime Suspect Victoria , canine companion
 of Miss Matty, is the suspected matriarch
 of the alleged progeny annexing the courts

Miss Matty

 As you can see, the resident canine population (photo far left) has taken over the courts. They were very protective of their turf, but showed no interest in turning pro.



 If you did not play tennis, there is an ongoing match with the Refurbishing, Renovating and
Restoration of Alpha’s Physical Plant in which you can compete. We are in dire, earnest need of more players and supporters. Our alma mater, in terms of physical presentation, quite frankly, would not make the Top Ten List of Things to See. She needs serious help. Buildings and infrastructure need major work; the grounds need a face lift. Please come out to play by supporting and/or donating towards Alpha fundraisers and events. You can have an enormous impact on making our school top-notch, not only in academics, but in being a sound, secure and beautiful environment from which to bring forth generations of strong women and future leaders!


Keyboard for the Music Department

The music department at Alpha has expressed the desire to obtain at least one high-quality, professional-grade keyboard. Other musical instruments will also be accepted. If you can help, speak up!


Art Department Supplies

The Art department is in serious need of supplies and equipment, such as papers, paints and inks, canvas, gesso, drawing pencils, calligraphy pens, brushes, easels... All supplies will be welcomed and put to good creative use.


“Take on” of the Library

We recently launched a book drive to restock the Library. Classic literary works such as Shakespeare; American, British, Caribbean and International authors, as well as textbooks and school-appropriate popular reading are all needed. PLEASE—donate! If you are going to Jamaica, please take or send them to Mr. Splatt, the librarian.





If you could ask Sister Bernadette one question, what would it be? We are considering requesting a documentary-interview with Sister Bernadette for posterity. E-mail questions or suggestions to our Editor–in-Chief at, or to More to come; stay tuned...





This was CMAA’s second year on “Alumni Row” at the Jamaican Jerk Festival in Broward County. We sold Jamaican pastries and Alpha school shirts and souvenirs. Our booth was close to a Cultural Heritage stage, and an Alpha alumna won a gift basket of Grace Products in one of that sponsor’s contests.  (Dr.) Anne-Marie Miles (’76) sold JAMFLIPS slippers (flip-flops) and graciously donated a percentage of the proceeds to C.M.A.A. ( We had many volunteers pitch in to make the day a success. As always, “honorary Alpha alumnus” Larry Lee (Patsy’s better half) rendered invaluable assistance and sage advice.

Special thanks to the prep crew who spent their precious Saturday night in fellowship and cake slicing (and wrapping, pricing and labelling...) into the late hours, all to help their alma mater. If you have never been to one of these, let it be known that these pre-event prep-crew get-togethers are filled with hard work. But they are also filled with love, laughter and life advice, interspersed with much debate on pricing, commentaries on so-and-so’s Saran-wrapping skills (or lack thereof) and a dose of girl talk. Larry always brings his ear plugs (although we suspect that he does not use them all the time...).

The Alpha booth did well. At night’s end we were tired but triumphant, having once again sold out all our baked delectables. We pre-empted the competition in true Alpha style by employing unique marketing strategies. With these, sales-alumna Heather Young (Royale, class of ’74), racked up numerous sales. Very special thanks to Patsy Lee and Addy Chin–Ogilvie who took multiple days off from work to prepare and organize logistics. They spearheaded this effort and mustered the troops. Kudos to ALL!!  The on-site book drive had moderate success, but not the substantial response hoped for.  Rummage through those bookshelves!



C.M.A.A Social at Truck Stop—Sat. January 3rd, 2009; 8:00 p.m. until 2:00 a.m.
Okeechobee (US 27) and Griffin Road, Davie, Florida. Admission:  FREE (Cash Bar/Food on Sale)
The Alpha Florida Chapter had a successful 2008! Come out and Network, Fraternize & Celebrate with us!
RSVP by December 26, 2008 to


C.M.A.A. Executive Committee Meeting-- January 31, 2009
2nd Annual C.M.A.A.
Alpha Spring Fling Dinner-Dance!!
Saturday, April 18, 2009, at the Graham Centre, F.I.U. Main Campus, Miami, FL
We will be having a raffle and are asking EVERYONE to call or email to volunteer and get some raffle books to sell!! CALL:
1-(954) 708-0363; Email:
Save The Date!  Mark Your Calendar! Book The Babtsitter! Hire The Limo!
Come Rock The Night Away!!  Don’t Miss This One!!!!!

In order for our projected aims to be accomplished, we are in great need of your support. Support may be in the form of word, deed or sowing of a seed. There is so much yet that needs to be done for our beloved high school from which we have received so much. No amount or effort is too little.  Big or small, “every mickle makes a muckle”, so give what you can; do what you can Whether you are in Jamaica, the U.S.A., Canada or Worldwide, YOUR ALMA MATER NEEDS YOU!!  Join the local chapter of your Alpha Academy Alumnae Association---or start one! Do some good and have a BLAST doing it! Each and every one of us makes a difference and it only works if each and every single one of us get involved. Spread the word...

Stay in touch. Get involved. Give back.


A Very Merry Christmas and a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year to One and All of Our Alpha Family Worldwide!


Stay in touch. Get involved. Support your Alma Mater..

"Your hands have made me and fashioned me;
give me understanding, that I may learn your commandments."
 Psalm 119:73



Site designed and maintained by: Adrienne (“Addy”) Chin-Ogilvie and Anne Marie Miles © 2008