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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

June 2009

Alpha Girls, All: Alumnae and members of the CMAA Executive Committee strike a pose with Sister Bernadette and light up the Graham Centre Ballroom at the Spring Fling Dinner-Dance.
(L-R) Camille Nozica (Archer), Espie Andrade (Dunn), Javier Russell(Daley), Olga Azan, Jennifer Figueroa, Sister Bernadette, Merline Barton, Patsy Lee (Yee)
Photo: Larry Lee

Hello Alpha Family! This is the June, 2009 issue of the CMAA Florida Chapter Newsletter. We hope that it finds you healthy, prospering and well-blessed. This is an exciting time to be an Alpha alumna in South Florida, North America, Jamaica or worldwide. So much is going on with all the chapters, all focused on enriching our alma mater ( find a chapter and get involved!!).

In this issue, we report on our New Year’s Networking Social at The Truck Stop, Our 2nd Annual Spring Fling Dinner-Dance and our Project Healthy Alpha initiative, plus more. Read On!


It was ‘back in uniform’ as the CMAA South Florida Chapter sported their C.M.A. Alpha polo shirts and started the New Year off with a bang, hosting a ‘Network & Nyam’ Social on Saturday, January 3rd at The Truck Stop. This venue is a fun, rustic, outdoor meeting spot in west Broward County, popular with many Jamaican and Caribbean folks. ‘Dance, Lime and Laugh’ was the order of the evening, as alumnae from Alpha mixed and mingled with friends and alumni of other Jamaican high schools such as Montego Bay High School, Mount Alvernia, St. Hugh’s, Calabar, Cornwall College, Excelsior, Wolmer’s and Jamaica College, plus fellow North Street-ers K.C. and St. George’s. Fuelled by roast fish, seafood and jerk, we revelled to the rhythms of D.J. Bonnitto, who laid down track after wicked track of oldies, Soca, Reggae and soul tunes that kept revellers on the dance floor ‘till the very end of the wee hours. The event had a wonderful turnout and a great time was had by all. Lock down di dance! Good vibes! Special, Special THANK YOU to Chris Alexander, coordinator and cook extraordinaire, without who, di dance would’a salt!



Our 2nd Annual Spring Fling Dinner/Dance, this past April 18th, was FUN, FUN, FUN!
The Graham Centre ballroom on the main campus of Florida International University was again the venue for our fund-raising Dinner/Dance. A balmy spring Saturday evening, replete with starlit Florida skies was the backdrop for a lovely evening of Alpha Family fellowship. There were prizes and surprises, raffle, gate prize and tasty Jamaican food. We rammed the dance and jammed to the rhythms of The Mighty Vikings Band featuring the great Oscar B and D.J. Bonnitto. The Graham Centre ballroom rocked ’till the wee hours and an awesome time was had by all.

Sister Bernadette was once again in attendance and was the recipient of a constant river of much love, blessings and greetings from alumnae and friends. She had company from fellow Alpha alumna, schoolmate Clovis McMorris, from their time at Alpha in the 40’s (we could not coax an exact date...). Boy, those Alpha girls are something ELSE!

The event was again a triumph this year, and totally exceeded our expectations in many ways. We were concerned, but deity smiled on us; alumnae and sponsors were exceedingly generous and the turnout was superb, despite the downswing in the economy. Alpha supporters, alumnae and their loved ones came out en masse to give stalwart support to our beloved Alpha. We actually had more alumnae present than at the inaugural Spring Fling Dinner/Dance last year! The graduates of the classes of the 1980’s used the event as a reunion social and swelled the throng of attendees. Our thanks to the 80’s graduates for their participation and support! Without you, our success would have been dubious. Thank you, one and all!

The SPRING FLING DINNER-DANCE RAFFLE was well-supported. The winners were:

1st PRIZE-- 3-day Bahamas Cruise for two on Carnival Cruise Lines -- C. Brown, Miami.
2nd PRIZE-- 19" HD Television -- R. Chung, Miami
3rd PRIZE-- Mountain Bike (donated by June Chin) -- J. Tolen, NY


GATE PRIZE WINNER: Hazel Knight, Miami, Florida

Ms. Knight won an Air Jamaica round trip ticket from Fort Lauderdale to Jamaica and three-day, four-night accommodation at the beautiful Fisherman's Point (donated by Reicland Anderson, husband of alumna Vivienne [Nancy] Anderson, son-in-law of our featured 100 year-old alumna, Esmie Austin [Willis])


-Longest marriage to an Alpha alumna: Dr. Winston Chutkan (Crystal Vase donated by Olga Azan)
-Donna Fung (Spa visit for 8, donated by Nickie Wong of Beauti-Control)
-Robert Bedasse- Gift Basket donated by Jennifer Figueroa of Warm Spirits
-The funniest prize was the microwave oven, won by Laura Borland, the person who cooked the least!

DOLLAR WINE CONTEST WINNER: Millicent Wynter- Gift Basket donated by VP Records

If you did not attend, well… you missed a truly special night. Save the date, start planning from NOW, because we’re looking to see you next year at the 3rd annual Spring Fling Dinner/Dance!
KUDOS to Patsy Lee, our chapter president, to Addy Chin-Ogilvie, our resident hurricane, and to Jennifer Figueroa for their untiring hard work and commitment, and for spearheading this effort! Heartfelt thanks to Members of the Executive Committee, Alumnae and all those who assisted in more ways than one. Alpha Girls are the BEST!!! (And we party hearty, too!). As Addy says: LET'S ALL CONTINUE TO KEEP THE FLORIDA FIRE BURNING! Below is the Vote of Thanks expressing our gratitude, by Dr. Anne Marie Miles:

...We thank you for taking the time out to support our 2nd Spring Fling Dinner/Dance. We know that times are hard, that most everyone is subject to constraints of time and finances and that many have travelled long distances to be here. Please rest assured that your attendance tonight is deeply appreciated, and that every penny raised from this event goes directly to fund the needs of our beloved Alma Mater - Convent of Mercy Academy "Alpha" High School in Jamaica.

An event like this takes planning, planning and more planning. The members of our South Florida Alpha Alumnae Association under the vibrant leadership of Mrs. Patricia Lee have worked hard to put it together - we thank all members of the Committee for the sacrifices of time that they have made. Special mention must be made of the yeoman work of Adrienne Chin-Ogilvie, Jennifer Figueroa and Marcia DaCosta-Bedasse.

We thank our generous sponsors and supporters: Aston Lue of Ocho Rios Foods; Air Jamaica and Reicland Anderson for our wonderful gate prize: round trip airfare to Jamaica with accommodations at Fisherman's Point; Mrs. Leila Chen for the lovely floral arrangements; our caterer: Tucks Catering; and Mr. Desmond Miles of the Mighty Viking Band with Road March King Oscar B. and DJ Bonnitto. Thank you all once again for coming and get ready to boogie soon!

Dr. Anne Marie Miles,
Valedictorian, Class of 1976



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...

A few of the questions we’ve received so far are: How old were you when you entered the convent? How were you called to serve God? Who were your more memorable students and why? How old were you when became headmistress of Alpha? What is best about retirement? Worst? Is it true that you still drive yourself? How do you stay fit? What is your secret of longevity? What house were you in at Alpha? What were your favourite subjects in school? Did you teach at Alpha before you were headmistress? What subject(s)?
Send yours in TODAY!



Spear-headed by Executive Committee members Dr. Sandra Lawrence and Dr. Anne Marie Miles, this innovative and ambitious project is a South Florida Chapter initiative. The objective of this project is to set aside a time where we as alumnae have an opportunity to go Jamaica to provide basic health care to Alpha students.
We are asking alumni and others in medical field—doctors, dentists, nurses, lab techs, as well as others outside the medical field to come forward and render assistance through donations of medicines, medical equipment and supplies or with monetary contributions. Please read letter of solicitation below, which is being distributed to medical entities, alumni and others across the USA. Please help by either donating supplies on the list and/or download, cut-and-paste and make copies and distribute to all your doctors and medical professionals.
For this venture to be successful we need you to participate by directly donating items on the list or by downloading letter.
… Stay tuned…


Dear Physicians, Dentists, Nurse Practitioners, Nurses, Physician Assistants, Office Managers, Pharmaceutical Representatives, Friends………….

We are “Spreading the Health” to a small island, Jamaica, to a high school very dear to us: our Alma Mater, Convent of Mercy Academy, Alpha. This school for girls has a rich history and contributed much to our formative years---but alas the years have not been generous and the school though not declining in spirit and commitment to its students and society is experiencing challenging times. One of the issues we are attempting to address is the lack of basic health care reflective of the poor means of the students and families.

We are requesting your generous support in this venture by donating to the cause any of the following new or used, but safe and functional items. Cash donations toward the purchase of any of these items are always welcome!

We thank you in advance for your generosity and time.


Sandy Lawrence, MD., FAAP
ME 61088

Patricia Lee
President, South Florida Alumnae Association



Expiration date of 2009 and later

Antibiotics (tablets, chewables, suspensions, injectables, topicals)
Anti-parasitics (anti-helminthics, anti-scabies, anti-trichomanals)
Antifungals (oral and topical,
Antihistamines (oral, topical, parenteral)
Hormones (OCP, thyroid etc)
Steroids (oral, topical, parenteral, sprays)
Bronchodilators (oral, nebulizer, inhaler)
Cough Medicines
Anti-pyretics, Analgesic, Anti-inflammatories (all formulations/ No Narcotics)
Local Anesthetics (Lidocaine, Xylocaine, Ethylchloride spray etc)
Oral hypogycemics
Iron Supplements (all formulations)
Vitamins (all formulations)
Et cetera


Eye Wash
Sharps Containers
Glucometers (lancets and testing strips)
Sphynomanometers (all cuff sizes)
Nebulizers (portable)
Suture Kits
Strep Rapid Test Strips
Small Scale
Tongue depressors
Urine Dip sticks
Otoscope and otocsope tips (disposable, all sizes)
Ear Currettes
Cotton balls


Below is an edited, condensed excerpt from Heather Royale-Young interview of Alpha’s only known 100+-year-old alumna.
“Today I am One Year Old!”

… An Interview with Alpha’s Oldest-known Student – Esmie Austin (Willis)
by Heather Royale-Young, class of ’74

Esmie Austin celebrated her 101st birthday on March 12th, 2009. Forget all your pre-conceptions of what a person of her age would be like! I met with Esmie, her daughter Vivienne (Nancy) and son-in-law Reicland Anderson at their home in Florida on the day of her birthday, for an exclusive interview for our Alumnae publication. After singing a hearty rendition of “Happy Birthday” and much applause, we settled down on the sofa to talk.

Esmie uses a walker to move short distances. She does not use a wheelchair! She has a strong clear voice, a full laugh and loves to converse! She was thrilled to have visitors and delighted in providing rich, detailed accounts from her life. Memory issues? Not here! Esmie had no problems answering our questions. We all agreed if we had to sum her up in one word it would be “Feisty”. Still independent and assertive, she is firm on stating her wishes whether it has to do with being photographed (which she does not like), directing the conversation, or returning the obvious affection of her family.

** [Below follows each question asked and its summarized answer.]**

Q. Tell us about your early life and how you came to attend school at Alpha?
Esmie is the 3rd child of four. Her mother died when she was 12 years old. Her father worked as a Pressman for “The Daily Gleaner”. Needing assistance in molding her life, he enrolled her at the Convent of Mercy Academy once she completed Miss Jordan’s private Elementary school.

Q. At what age did you attend Alpha and what was the school like at that time?
In 1922, at age 14, she enrolled in what was then called the “Preliminary” Group (Prelim). She was a day student, but Alpha also had Boarder students from Cuba and South America. Classes were held in one long building; there was no library. There were five teachers, nuns: The Headmistress, Sister Veronica, Sisters Leguri, Agatha, Gabriel and Cyress (spellings may not be accurate). Alpha attracted girls from many local wealthy families: Henriques, Lawson, Geddes. Mother Veronica went abroad recruiting new Boarders.

Q. What was the uniform like at that time?
They wore a white blouse and navy-blue skirt. Esmie does not recall the “peter-pan collar” so familiar to many of us in our later school years, nor did Upper School students wear a tie.

Q. What subjects did you study?
All Prelim students were required to take Catechism, English, Geography, Math, Algebra, Spanish and Latin. They had to visit the Chapel every day.

Q. What were your favorite subject(s)?
English Literature! Sister Agatha instilled a life-long love for poetry and plays. To our amazement, Esmie began to recite stanzas from her favorite poem, “Marmion” by Sir Walter Scott about the battle of Flodden Field.* Her face and eyes lit up and her voice held all the affectations as she was taught. The school put on a dramatic public play every January. She recalls being a part of: Twelfth Night, A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream (she played the role of “Bottom”), Mary Queen of Scots and another of her favorites, The Magic Key. Esmie again began to quote lines. These times are some of her favorite memories and she recalls them often.
Q. Were there any Sports or Elective programs at Alpha?
There were no formal sports taught, but at PE time they played Games: “Chevy Chase”, “Ring”, “Brown Girl” and “Little Sally Water”. (Esmie began to sing the words to this one.) There were Singing and Drawing lessons, but no Sewing or Needlework. Sister Veronica taught Painting classes. Whenever it was a Saint’s Feast Day, they would get the afternoon off from classes and would dance in the classroom with each other.

Q. Did Alpha girls have any interaction with St. George’s boy’s school?
No, they did not mix at all.

Q. A highlight of our Catholic education was going on Retreats. Did you get to do that?
Yes. They went on Retreat for one week, but at School. This involved talks by the Nuns, prayer, going to confession and taking communion. At the end they would get a Big Breakfast at the Rectory [Convent].

Q. Did you have any special friends at Alpha?
Her friends were Lidwina Harper, Violet Cadian and Juliet Burrow (all deceased). She and her friends would walk home together from school around Race Course-Machado. She lived on Devon Avenue and another lived on Norman Road. Mae Robinson was another friend who was an expert at playing the piano. She ended up leaving Alpha but came back to visit one day and played the “Wedding March” on the piano for them. The girls started to sing and hold hands like they were going to get married. Sister Veronica came in and saw them and shouted that it was “shocking and disgraceful for young girls to act that way”.

Q. When did you graduate from Alpha?
Esmie states that she did not want to take Senior exams as she was “too nervous”. Her father allowed her to leave school at age 17. She wanted to learn Practical Nursing but her father said he did not want her to do that. He felt that kind of work was too hard for her. She remarked that back then it was not that important for girls to be fully educated so she remained at home caring for the family. When her father passed away at age 49, she went to work for the Benjamin’s company. She was introduced to her future husband by a friend and they were married in 1947 after a four-year courtship. Because she had such a wonderful experience attending Alpha, she sent her two daughters, Vivienne (Nancy), with whom she lives, and Diana (currently in New York) to attend school there.

Q. Do you remember any important Jamaicans from that time?
She saw Marcus Garvey when she was seventeen. One day she walked past his house – he lived near Cross Roads, and he was standing at his gate fanning himself. She laughed hard; thought it funny that he looked so pompous. Bustamante visited Benjamin’s while she worked there –attempting to organize a union, but she did not join. She met Lady Higgins (the wife of the Governor), and shook hands with Norman Manley.

Q. To what do you attribute your longevity?
She didn’t hesitate with this answer: “GOD”, trust in GOD”. Esmie has outlived all her brothers & sisters and husband. She never took vitamins. She always loved to take long walks and stayed active. Even in her eighties, she began helping out friends at their Dry Cleaning business. Although she eats other meat, she never ate chicken since as a child she had a little chicken as a pet and loved it dearly.

One thing is sure: Esmie continues to be an inspiration to those around her and embodies the motto of our Alma Mater: “To the good and True”.


* Our next CMAA event will be our HALLOWEEN PICNIC, Saturday, October 31, 2009, at C.B. Smith Park, Shelters 14 and 15, Pembroke Pines, Florida, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Music by D.J. Bonnitto. Donation: $15:00 per person, $8.00 (Kids under 10). Costumes are Optional! DON’T HESITATE TO DRESS DI WHOLE FAMILY AND COME! Barrels of Fun for the Entire Family. (See - Click on "EVENTS")

* “Take on” of the Library
One of our ongoing projects is the restocking of the Library. Our plan has been to collect books on an ongoing basis. Already, several boxes to books—from novels to literature to texts- have been obtained. If you have novels, textbooks, study guides —any appropriate literary to materials - to donate, or if you are going to Jamaica and are willing to deliver some books, please contact us!

* Breakfast Program/Student Assistance Programme
We as an association will continue to maintain the Student Breakfast Program. For more than a decade, this program has provided hearty breakfasts for girls who needed this service. However, what originally began as a Breakfast Programme for disadvantaged students has expanded to provide books, uniforms, bus fare and lunch! As a result, it is now called the Student Assistance Programme. This program is overseen by the Office of the Sisters of Mercy, under the supervision of Mrs. Rheta Chen.

* The Sister Mary Bernadette Little, R.S.M. Academic Scholarship
In honour of our venerable and beloved headmistress emeritus, CMAA South Florida Chapter instituted “The Sister Mary Bernadette Little, R.S.M. Academic Scholarship”. The inaugural presentation was made last October to two students at the behest of Sister Bernadette. The young ladies are both at UWI and progressing. The standard award to one student will be made this fall, 2009.

* Web Page
Our web page is Its existence and maintenance is due largely to the gargantuan efforts of Addy Chin-Ogilvie and Anne-Marie Miles. Check it out!

* CMAA Annual General Meeting is scheduled for October, 2009. All active members are eligible to vote and run for offices. Time and venue will be posted on our website.

* The next Executive Committee Meeting is scheduled for July 25, 2009

* Toronto Chapter Request
Jo Jo HoLung, President of the Toronto Chapter, is requesting ALL available class photos for a slideshow presentation for their "ALPHA 30th ANNIVERSARY DINNER AND DANCE" to be held at La Gondola, Concord, Ontario, Canada on Saturday, November 7, 2009. PLEASE DIG UP YUH "COROACHES" and forward your photos to Addy, or Jo Jo Ho Lung, ( as soon as possible.

In order for our projected missions 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.
No amount or effort is too small. Big or little, “Every mickle makes a muckle”, so give what you can; do what you can…

Get in touch. Stay in Touch. Get Involved. Give Back.

Support your Alma Mater.



ALL OF US!!!!!!

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 © 2009