The History of Alpha

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!


By Carol Provost

Class of 1976

Profile of Principal 

Convent of Mercy Academy "Alpha"

Mrs. Kali McMorris is an experienced educator with over twenty years of experience both as a teacher and administrator. She is Roman Catholic and accredits much of her professional character to her Roman Catholic education.


She is a trained teacher with a post graduate degree in Educational Leadership and has successfully taught at every level of the secondary system including preparing students for external examinations in four subject areas. In her over ten years’ experience in senior management, she has served in various areas of school administration until being invited to serve as Principal at Alpha Academy in February 2016.


A seasoned project manager, particularly effective in negotiating changing environments, Mrs. McMorris has presided over a wide range of school building projects such as campus reorganizations, lab renovations and the implementation of data management systems. Her first task at Alpha has been a Crusade- A Connectivity Crusade.


The CMA Connectivity Crusade is a Capital Development Project to improve the infrastructure, hardware and software capacity of the Academy to facilitate, interactive lessons, continuous learning and the development of 21st Century skills and competencies. So far this has yielded great fruit- a website, greater use of online learning platforms. Improved  Library and research skills for students and staff, a new computer lab and 80% fiber optic network infrastructure.


At the national level, Mrs. McMorris has served Jamaica as a sport administrator and believes in the value of co-curricular and community involvement in the formation of good character. Today, her service to community is largely through the Church and includes youth leadership and catechesis.


Mrs. McMorris has been married for twenty three years and has two daughters.

Kali McMorris

Executive Committee

Patricia Lee
Class of 1967
Alric Graham Henry
Vice President
Class of 1962
Elaine Bloomfield
Class of 1972
Jerrine Foster
Asst. Secretary
Class of 2004
Esperanza Andrade
Class of 1952
Nicolene Wong
Asst. Treasurer
Class of 1984
Sonia Campbell-Douglas 
Class of 1972
Addy Chin-Ogilvie 
Class of 1976
Donna Samms-Fong
Class of 1972
Leila Chen
Class of 1959
Javier Daley (Russell)
Class of 1972
Sonia Lewis 
Class of 1965
Joan Segre
Class of 1972
Jennifer Figueroa 
Class of 1973

Advisory Committee




Sub-Committee Chairpersons

       PATRICIA LEE                    Fundraising

       ADDY CHIN-OGILVIE       Membership & PR

       JAVIER DALEY                   Scholarship Programs



  • 1995 Received Commendation from Mayor Stephen P. Clark of the City of Miami

  • 2009 Voted Best Jamaican Social Club/Association – Miami & Ft. Lauderdale

  • 2010 Voted Best Jamaican Social Club/Association – Miami & Ft. Lauderdale

  • 2013 Voted Best Jamaican Social Club/Association – Miami

  • 2014 Consulate General of Jamaica Luminary Award to Director Patricia Lee, for contribution to the development of             communities in South Florida

  • 2015 Voted Best Jamaican Social Club/Association – Miami

  • 2015 Consulate General of Jamaica Changemaker Award to Director Adrienne Chin-Ogilvie, for contribution to the             development of communities in South Florida

  • 2016 Voted Best Jamaican Social Club/Association – Ft. Lauderdale

  • 2017 Voted Best Jamaican Social Club/Association – Ft. Lauderdale