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 (...so 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!
NEW YEAR’S ‘NETWORK &
GROOVE SOCIAL’ AT THE “TRUCK STOP”
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!
C.M.A.A. SPRING FLING DINNER-DANCE REPORT
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
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
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.
Other PRIZEWINNERS were:
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])
SPOT PRIZE WINNERS:
-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
-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 firstname.lastname@example.org, or to
email@example.com. 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!
C.M.A.A. SOUTH FLORIDA CHAPTER’S PROJECT: MISSION
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
… Stay tuned…
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
Lawrence, MD., FAAP
President, South Florida Alumnae
Expiration date of 2009 and later
Antibiotics (tablets, chewables, suspensions,
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)
Anti-pyretics, Analgesic, Anti-inflammatories (all
formulations/ No Narcotics)
Local Anesthetics (Lidocaine, Xylocaine, Ethylchloride
Iron Supplements (all formulations)
Vitamins (all formulations)
Glucometers (lancets and testing strips)
Sphynomanometers (all cuff sizes)
Strep Rapid Test Strips
Urine Dip sticks
Otoscope and otocsope tips (disposable, all sizes)
100 YEAR OLD ALPHA
Below is an edited, condensed excerpt from Heather
Royale-Young interview of Alpha’s only known 100+-year-old
“Today I am One Year Old!”
… An Interview with Alpha’s Oldest-known Student – Esmie
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
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
** [Below follows each question asked and its summarized
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
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
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”.
OTHER PROJECTS &
CALENDAR OF UPCOMING EVENTS
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
www.alphafloridachapter.com - 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
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.
The Sister Mary Bernadette Little, R.S.M. Academic
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.
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
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,
firstname.lastname@example.org or Jo Jo Ho Lung, (email@example.com)
as soon as possible.
Get in touch.
Stay in Touch. Get Involved. Give Back.
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
Support your Alma Mater.
AND WHAT TOOK PLACE AT THE “SPRING FLING THING?”
80’s GRADUATES REUNITE
“WHAT HAPPENS AT THE SPRING FLING….”
SISTER B. REMAINS POPULAR AMONGST
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."