The Music Diaries | Alpha continues rich musical heritage | Entertainment

The Alpha Boys School, located at 26 South Camp Road, Kingston 4, has made a dramatic transformation from the days when Sister Jessie Ripoll saw the need for orphaned and underprivileged girls to be housed and cared for.

The idea was later expanded to include boys who lived as outcasts in Kingston. It all began in 1880 in a simple way, that would bring wide acclaim to Jamaica in the field of music.

In order to prepare these youths for the outside world, Ripoll and her support group – The Sisters Of Mercy, saw the need to institute trade training, consisting of two industrial sections, one for the girls and one for the boys. A music programme for the boys began shortly after, and out of this came the school band in 1892. Enjoying 125 years of unbroken service to the country, the band has become a part of the musical culture of the Island, playing for Kings, Princes and other dignitaries. In addition, it has produced some of Jamaica’s greatest musical legends, including Don Drummond, Tommy McCook, Johnny ‘Dizzy’ Moore, Rico Rodriguez, Raymond Harper, Lester Sterling, Tony Green, Dean Frazer, Headley Bennett, Lennie Hibbert, Yellowman, Leroy Smart and Tony Gregory.

The Alpha Boys Home/School was the residence for all these greats while they attended the institution. But things have drastically changed since then. On September 5, 2014, the school effectively discarded the residential system and opted for a day-school vocational and educational facility that caters for at risk inner-city youths, school dropouts, and trade-minded youngsters.

Speaking recently to Charles Arumaiselvam – public relations director for the newly named Alpha Institute on the occasion of the 137th anniversary of the institution, he mentioned some half a dozen trade training programs that the new school was offering: basic computer programs (Microsoft functions), carpentry, woodwork, barbering, screen printing and landscaping technology.

Come September, Greenhouse Technology will…

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