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Alpha: It All Started May 1

The four women from Kingston in 1890 never knew that the Alpha the created would help put Jamaica on the map.

The history of Alpha at 26 South Camp Road includes a few name changes (Alpha Cottage, Alpha Industrial School for Boys, Alpha Boys School and now The Alpha Institute) and 1000s of success stories. There are many excellent printers, tailors, furniture makers and farmers who learned their craft at Alpha not to mention all the fathers, husbands and citizens who grew there. Of the many success stories, music is the most well known. Regardless of the trade or the year, all Alpharians trace their roots back to May 1, 1880 when Jesse Ripoll opened Alpha Cottage on what was then the outskirts of Kingston.

alpha boys school
Mother Claver, born Jesse Ripoll

Alpha's story started May 1, 1880, when Jessie Ripoll led four women in Kingston, Jamaica to open an orphanage called Alpha Cottage on a 40-acre property along South Camp Road. The work became so much for Jessie and her friends that the Religious Sisters of Mercy, a Catholic order of nuns in Bermondsey, England, were invited to assist. Four sisters arrived in 1890 and established a convent. Jessie Ripoll joined the convent, changed her name to Mother Claver and the Sisters of Mercy operate Alpha to this day. 


Click to learn more about the Sisters of Mercy in Jamaica.




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