Wed | Oct 21, 2020

Digicel Foundation to assist Alpha Boys’ music project

Published:Monday | July 27, 2020 | 12:18 AM
A delighted Charmaine Daniels (left), CEO of the Digicel Foundation, pens her name on a contract to construct the Alpha School of Music, while Sister Susan Frazer, Executive Director at the Alpha Institute, formerly Alpha Boys’ School, looks on.
A delighted Charmaine Daniels (left), CEO of the Digicel Foundation, pens her name on a contract to construct the Alpha School of Music, while Sister Susan Frazer, Executive Director at the Alpha Institute, formerly Alpha Boys’ School, looks on.

Since the closure of the dormitory in 2014, the administration of the Kingston-based Alpha Boys’ School, has been developing plans to repurpose that space into a dedicated centre for its long-standing, renowned music programme.

Funding, however, has been a huge challenge for this major expansion, which will include a performance space, rehearsal rooms and a music resource centre. But in stepped the Digicel Foundation, which, last Thursday, inked a deal at Alpha to assist the project.

“You know how it is sometimes when you’re struggling to get things started and you just can’t get any traction. Sister Martha Milner, who passed in October 2019, put together a four-year music and jazz curriculum for us and when she did that, it all came together,” explained Sister Susan Frazer, executive director at Alpha Institute. “Digicel is the top of the heap for us – this sponsorship is what has moved it forward for us. Now we can get more than the outside done.”

As a part of the foundation’s sponsorship, the newly renovated building will be dedicated to Digicel’s former CEO, Colm Delves, who passed away in May after a battle with cancer. “Colm embraced Jamaican culture through music,” said Charmaine Daniels, CEO of the Digicel Foundation. We’re proud to be able to honour him in this way. It it is our largest investment in a music programme to date, and we know Alpha will care for this building as it continues to serve at-risk young men and create a world where no one is left behind.”

The Digicel Foundation is focused on the areas of special needs, education and community development, and a large part of their investment in schools has been focused on science, technology, engineering and maths.

Alpha has had a 140-year history of promoting skills to boys and much of that history is entrenched in music, with past students such as Yellowman, Dizzy Reece, Feluke, Tommy McCook, Lester ‘Ska’ Sterling and John Arlington “Dizzy” Moore.

“Sister Martha was instrumental in bringing this music programme to life and now the late Colm Delves, through the Digicel Foundation, will be an important part of that as well,” said Frazer.

The renovation is set to be completed by December 2020. Other investors have already assisted the school in creating an adjacent outdoor space for open-air performances. This space will also be available for rentals to assist the school in maintaining the extensive music programme.

Other sponsors include the Tourism Enhancement Fund and the Sandals Foundation.