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Story Highlights

  • For 125 years, the Alpha Primary School located on South Camp Road, Kingston, has been shaping the lives of Jamaicans and garnering a reputation of excellence.
  • “For the national exams… we are performing above the national average… we have tried to create well-rounded students and they have really done us proud,” she tells JIS News.
  • In 1880, a young Roman Catholic woman, Jessie Ripoll, bought a 43-acre property and transformed it into the Alpha Cottage, where she admitted a single orphan girl.

For 125 years, the Alpha Primary School located on South Camp Road, Kingston, has been shaping the lives of Jamaicans and garnering a reputation of excellence.

Branded as one of the island’s premier primary institutions, Alpha has recorded outstanding results in all national standardised examinations, namely the Grade Four Literacy and Numeracy Tests, and the Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT).

This institution, which has 1,000 students on roll, has produced some of Jamaica’s outstanding leaders, including former Prime Minister, Bruce Golding; Gospel artiste, Jenieve Hibbert-Bailey, and broadcasters, Henry Stennett, Michael Sharpe and Nadine McLeod.

In an interview with JIS News, Principal, Millicent Graham, says the school has strong and successful education and performing arts programmes, which are critical to the overall development of Jamaica’s future leaders.

“For the national exams… we are performing above the national average… we have tried to create well-rounded students and they have really done us proud,” she tells JIS News.

“We have several medals, as it relates to dance, music and speech. This year, for instance, of four entries in dance in the festival of the performing arts, we got four gold medals and two national trophies. For music, we did exceptionally well. We got six gold and seven silver, four bronze, and we got three national trophies,” she boasts.

Ms. Graham says the institution, with its committed and hard-working staff of 32, will continue to challenge the minds of students.

She informs that an accelerated programme will be introduced for those who are gifted, in a bid to expose them to higher levels of critical thinking, while continuing to challenge them. The students will be participating in more debates, research and quizzes.

“The students who are at the lower (and second) tiers, they get a lot of attention, and those… who are performing above average, we don’t think we challenge them enough, and so we now have a special programme for them,” she tells JIS News.

She says that the school also offers a wide range of extracurricular activities, such as the Spanish, mathematics, 4-H Clubs, and Brownies. These, she says, allow students to develop leadership skills.

Ms. Graham says that while the school does not have a tradition of achievement in sports, there are plans to introduce more students to activities such as netball and cricket.

As the institution marks its 125th anniversary this year, Ms. Graham says homage will be paid to the pioneers, and the institution’s contributions to the community and country will be recognised and celebrated.

Ms. Graham tells JIS News that a wall of fame has been mounted to highlight past students who have done exceptionally well over the years.

She adds that a church service, which had to be rescheduled due to inclement weather, will now be held on June 2.  The year-long celebration also includes a banquet later this year, to recognise the school’s achievements.

Activities already held include an Open Day/Math Exposition at the school’s campus and an Evening of Excellence at the Little Theatre.

Ms. Graham says the events were successful, and commended the past students for their continued support of the institution.

In 1880, a young Roman Catholic woman, Jessie Ripoll, bought a 43-acre property and transformed it into the Alpha Cottage, where she admitted a single orphan girl.

Over the years, as the institution’s population grew, so too did its purpose and importance to the Kingston community, and in 1892, it was transformed into an elementary school with the assistance of the Sisters of Mercy from England.

The school went through a number of name changes, including Top School, Alpha Elementary, and Alpha Junior School.