Mercy Group of Schools in Jamaica

The Alpha Campus - Kingston

Alpha Infant School

Alpha Infant School founded on August 4, 1896, is perhaps one of the oldest kindergarten schools in Jamaica. The Sisters understood the importance of  ‘early childhood education’ and worked towards providing high quality kindergarten education for children aged 4-6 years old. Through the years the number of students grew as high as five hundred (a year) and opened its door as a ‘feeder’ school to the Alpha Primary School. Even today, the Alpha Infant acts as a feeder school for both the Alpha Primary and Jessie Ripoll Primary Schools.

Currently it has a population of 192 students.

The key focus of the current academic year is Covid 19 related issues that has increased the stress levels of these students and affected their school behaviors. The in-school counseling department and teaching staff are addressing these concerns with introduction of experts where necessary.

Importantly, the ‘play and learn’ techniques are much more emphasized and implemented with our school children than any other times. The results of these measures have been phenomenal.

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Alpha Primary School

Alpha Elementary School was founded with a handful of students after the arrival of Sisters of Mercy from Bermondsey, England, in 1892. This was the first educational institution founded by the Sisters of Mercy in Jamaica. Over the years, the institution’s population grew, and so too did its purpose and importance to the Kingston community. After 120 years of existence, it has garnered a reputation for excellence and top-class results. The Alpha Primary School has remained one of Jamaica’s premier institutions over the years, boasting outstanding results in all national standardised examinations.

Alpha Primary School now has 940 registered students for the current school year. Its key focus for this year has been promoting the Mercy Education profile of the graduate. Covid Pandemic has disrupted students’ performances and delivery of curriculum. Now the school has prioritized recapturing the learning loss through pull-out programmes in Math and English and invested time and resources in improving the science programmes and cocurricular activities.

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Jessie Ripoll Primary

Jessie Ripoll Primary School opened its doors on September 24, 1979, in response to the burgeoning student and staff population at the Alpha Primary School. A total of six hundred students and ten teachers moved into the new Primary School named Alpha Primary II. On the 100th anniversary of Alpha, on the 1st of May 1980, the school was fittingly renamed after the Foundress of Alpha – Jessie Ripoll Primary. What more fitting tribute could we given to this woman whose vision had reached a 100 year milestone. Her desire to reach out to the underprivileged especially the uneducated and the marginalized in our society is her legacy.

Currently Jessie Ripoll is the most sought-after primary school and ranks #1 islandwide.

Revision of the school’s ‘Nutrition Plan’ to reflect a reduction of salt and sugar in take as well as engaging in greater exercise and fitness activities has been a primary focus.

In light of the need to improve the overall health and wellness of stakeholders, it is imperative that a play area for students is further developed. Based on this implementation plans are being put forward to the Board to develop the existing football field into a proper sports area.

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Students

It has a total strength of 937 students. The key academic focus are:

  • Improved academic performance in Literacy from 94% to 98% and 90% to 94% in Numeracy skills
  • Improved Mercy values through school-wide activities, for example increased outreach programmes for women and children as well as maintaining the environment.

 

Convent of Mercy of Academy

In 1894, Alpha cottage, which served as a home for the sisters and the orphans, was transformed into a High School for girls and became known as the Convent of Mercy Academy ‘Alpha’. Mother Mary Aquinas Kearns was officially named the first Principal and the building was formally blessed and declared open on May 1, 1894. The first students were Ethline and Ivy Hodge, Leah and Ella Johnson.

Established originally as a small, private high school in response to the need for educational and spiritual development of young women in Jamaica, the Convent of Mercy Academy ‘Alpha’  has made significant strides in curriculum development, in co-curricular activities and service clubs, in Sports, Elocution, Drama, and in Fine Arts. The enrollment today numbers upwards of 1300 students.

Through all that is accomplished at the Academy, significant focus has been given to the personal and spiritual development of the young women, appreciation of their innate dignity, beauty and worth, of their power to influence others for good, and of their ministry to share with others. It is by embracing these qualities that they embody the motto of their school: “Ad Verum et Bonum”.

In keeping with our SIP and determination to infuse a Catholic Culture and Mercy Values, we have extended Christian Living to 6th form and have at least two groups in the Chapel for at least a Word Service each week. We are fortunate to have two priests of the Archdiocese engaged in the Catholic Culture and Christian Living activities.

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Key Focus for the Academic Year are defined in our ‘School Improvement Plan’ (SIP)

  1. All 5th Form students will have passing Final Averages in 6 subjects, including mathematics and English by 2022.
  2. To identify students who have demonstrated severe learning loss/deficiencies over the previous academic year and provide remedial support at all Grade levels.
  3. The Critical Concerns of the Sisters of Mercy are fully incorporated into the curriculum

Alpha School of Music

‘Alpha Boys School’ started in 1892 by Sister Mary deChantal, one of the five sisters, who came from England. She initiated the Alpha Boys Band and Music training programme. Decades later, the music training and Alpha Boys Band helped to launch the careers of key contributors to jazz such as Dizzy Reece, Joe Harriott; pioneers of ska such as Don Drummond, Lester Sterling; and reggae such as Bobby Ellis, Cedric Brooks, Leroy ‘Horsemouth’ Wallace; with some of these musicians becoming vocal ambassadors of Jamaica’s culture itself.

Alpha’s music programme has been called a “dream factory” for “legendary musicians” who “helped release the spirit of one of the most musical islands in the world”. With the change from a residential home for boys to a day  institution  the music programme was transitioned to the Alpha School of Music.

With the help of the late Sister Martha Milner RSM  Alpha School of Music developed an Associate Degree in Music Performance and Music Technology several certificate courses in disc jockeying  (DJ), music recording, editing, & production, Pro Tools and radio techniques.

It is the newest member of the Mercy Group of Schools in Jamaica and now taking the number of Mercy Group of Schools to eight.

In year 2 of the programme there are 22 music students in the Associate Degree Programme. There is a development plan for the School to be executed over the next 2-3 years.

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For the 2023 Academic Year, the key focus has been on

  • Testing & improving the new 2nd year syllabi
  • Setting up and opening the new music technology lab funded by Digicel Foundation

Alpha Vocational Training Centre

Alpha  Vocational Training Centre is focused on educating the ‘at-risk-youth and under-privileged students’ of various Kingston and St. Andrew vulnerable communities and shares the same rich history of Alpha Boys School founded in 1892. The Institution transitioned from a Residential Boys home to a day programme Vocational Training Centre in 2014.

Currently, there are 45 students registered in Woodwork, Screenprinting, Music, and Barbering Trades.  

The key focus for this academic year is to build literacy and numeracy skills among students while nurturing proper values and attitudes that serve as a prerequisite for learning their vocational skills.

Because our students are from inner-city communities, poverty and instability in families are serious issues they face. There is much focus on ensuring meals are provided at a subsidized cost, and counseling and various social intervention activities are part of the curriculum in order to curb social and behavioral problems. Mercy Values are promoted and implemented in all of the school activities to bring out the best in them.

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Mandeville Campus - Manchester

Mt. St. Joseph Preparatory School

Mount St. Joseph Preparatory School was founded in 1934. It was formerly grouped with a high school and a commercial college excelling for decades in serval academic areas and extra-curricular activities. Today Mount St. Joseph Prep School is a private school while excelling with 95% of academic success,  proudly boasts of top performances in visual and performing arts, chess, debating, cricket, football in Island wide interschool competitions.

The key focus for this academic year is concentrated on ‘respect for self, others and the enviroment; Educational Courage, Spirituality and Teamwork.

In collaboration with the Ministry of Health, the school has introduced zero tolerance on high sugar beverages at school and the campagin has been a partnership initiative of parents, teachers and students.

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Mt. St. Joseph Catholic High School

Mount St. Joseph High School founded in 2014, is a Mercy Affiliate School since 2021.

With the initiative of then Minister of Education, Hon. Ronald Thwaites, and the Roman Catholic Bishop of Mandeville, Bishop Neil Teidemann, on May 13, 2013, the need for a Catholic High School in Mandeville, Manchester, was penned and framed. A design team was then developed and organized composed of Sister Susan Frazer, representing the Sisters of Mercy, Ms. Marcia Tai Chun, Project Consultant Representing the Diocese of Mandeville, Ms. Grace Baston, the Principal of Campion College and others, to establish the grant-aided denominational high-school. The late Sister Janet Baker RSM was also a consultant on the project.

In September, 2014, the school registered its first cohort of students. Now the current population of the school is at a total of eight-hundred and forty-five (845).

The High School has been a sought after school by parents and students in the Parish of Manchester and has become one of the outstanding schools with very high academic acheivements. With limited resources and still in the stage of infrastructural development needing two more blocks of classrooms , the high school administration has still maintained high educational and disciplinary standards.

The key focus for the acedemic year for Mt. St. Joseph High School are:

  • Closing the learning gaps arising from COVID-19 pandemic and the extended periods of online classes.
  • Addressing the social and emotional impact of COVID-19 on our school community.
  • Student Welfare Programme addressing the health and financial shortages of students from poor homes especially those students who need transportation and meals.

To address these priority areas, a part time social worker has been employed to engage with parents and students and deal with their social and behavioral challenges. In addition, referals are also made to external agencies and professionals to engage with severe cases.    

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Today, the Sisters of Mercy through these nine Mercy Group of Schools educate about five thousand (5000) students and impart on them those cultural, spiritual and religious values that will enable them to contribute, not only to the economic development of family and society but to minister to the welfare of the poor, sick and the marginalized and thereby continue the mission of Jesus.

The Mercy Group of Schools continue to engage through the five critical concerns of the Sisters of Mercy to create a space that is environmentally friendly, supportive to women empowerment and strongly inter-cultural and inclusive. Behind a diminutive number of religious Sisters, the Sisters of Mercy of Jamaica are fortunate to host a large group of capable and talented lay women and men who are dedicated and committed to carry out the works of the Sisters of Mercy. 

St. John Bosco Vocational Training Centre

In the 1950’s, with a great demand for addressing the need for a full residential programme for  delinquent juveniles the Sisters of Mercy founded St. John Bosco Boys’ Home in the rural parish of Manchester as a counterpart to the Alpha Boys’ Home in the Capital City of Kingston, Jamaica.

Four Sisters of Mercy – Sister Mary Scholastica Scott, Sister Mary Thecla Lautier, Sister M. Berchmans Lluch and Sister H. Clarke – were assigned to the new home which included a primary school with farming as its main vocational programme.  With lots of hard work, expertise, love and vision, in the last 60 years, the Sisters of Mercy have trained and educated hundreds of thousands of boys and has saved countless number of them from violence and crime and has shaped them to become responsible, hardworking citizens of Jamaica. Some of whom now are in well paid jobs, owning their own homes, raising families and mentoring other children who are facing similar juvenile challenges as they did. Over the years in an effort to generate income to sustain the work St. John Bosco now boasts a state-of-the-art piggery and chicken house and a butcher and meat processing facility. Both these facilities are also part of the training programme .Bosco also has 2 catering halls and a restaurant, “the Falls” .

In order to address the changing needs of youth in Jamaica, under the leadership of Sister Susan Frazer, St. John Bosco Boys Home has successfully transitioned from a residential programme to  into a vocational training centre day programme with a current population of 80 students in training in various certification and diploma courses.  Food preparation and Culinary Arts, Barbering, Butchering & Meat Processing, Contact Centre Skills (Call Centre), Greenhouse Farming & Husbandry are some of the trades that are offered at St. John Bosco.

 

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The key focus for the academic year are:

  • Getting all students passing the City & Guilds Math and English exams
  • Preparing students to sit Level 2 Diploma courses in their respective trades and
  • Expanding the Vocational Training offerings for 2023.

With the improved infrastructural development scheduled for 2023 and 2024, namely the Sister Noreen Gray Hospitality Centre and the proposed Cosmetology Trade Centre, St. John Bosco can boast of a high-quality education and training services for the most needy and rural population of Jamaica.

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