Mon | Dec 18, 2017

Alpha Institute : crafting future leaders

Published:Friday | August 25, 2017 | 12:07 AM
From left:Andre Adman, Alpha Institute’s music director; Najay Pearce, music technology alumnus and British Council award winner; and Reverend Don McDowell, Alpha Institute’s music technology instructor and British Council Award winner, share a moment.
From left Alpha Institute postgraduates in music technology, Sajay Watson and Rochard Henry; international recording star Sean Paul; and Alpha Institute instructor Reverend Don McDowell listen to tracks created by the Alpha Music Department.
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At an institution with a 137-year history, it can be easy to get lost in seemingly endless 'best-of' lists. In the case of the Alpha Institute, formerly Alpha Boys School, excellence extends from music to printing to football to boxing and more.

"The Alpha Institute has been improving since day one," said Alpha's enthusiastic school administrator, Margaret Little Wilson. "The Religious Sisters of Mercy, who have run the school since 1890, have big expectations. We are always asking ourselves, 'How can we make the Alpha experience the best possible for students, instructors and staff?'"

Since becoming a day school for 16 to 19-year-old young men in 2014, Alpha Institute's students have received national honours for their results in City & Guilds exams; won Jamaica's Best School Band Competition; launched the new Sean Paul Music Technology Centre; and helped more than 100 young men earn comprehensive vocational training certificates in trades such as music, woodwork, landscaping and barbering.

A path to employment

For young men who are Kingston residents, 16-18 years old and who did not finish high school, or perhaps need a trade after finishing high school, the Alpha Institute offers a possible solution to career and life skills.

Alpha's music programme is a lot more than playing musical instruments. While it is required for new music students to know the basics of at least one instrument, Alpha also offers training on campus from experienced professionals in disc jockeying, Pro Tools recording, live mixing, radio broadcasting and beat making.

Class projects include music video production, music recording and performances. All students interested in technology also learn music theory and may sit for the Associated Boards Royal School of Music exams.

Leroy Thompson, one of Kingston's veteran sound engineers, said, "Alpha offers a stepping stone into the technical part of the music industry. They have the facilities and the staff to help a young man who is willing to learn, find a career in the music or entertainment business."

Alpha understands the transition from school to work can be stressful for the student and helps ensure the process is as smooth as possible. Mandatory and elective work experience opportunities, a vocational training curriculum that emphasises learning by doing, and a complementary academic class mean students have a strong foundation.

Four music graduates who recently completed the programme have earned awards to go to London, England, and San Andres, Colombia, this summer for continuing education and professional networking activities.

"Alpha has prepared us for the past three years," said Jordan Moncrieffe, a member of Jamaica's 2016 Best School Band Competition winner and one of the students invited to London for continuing education and networking. "We are grateful for the opportunity and want to do our best possible."

However, it can't always be about work. In the most recent and Alpha's first year back at competition in the Jamaica Independent School Association football league, the new kids on the block kicked their way to winning the Kingston and St Andrew division with a record of seven wins and one tie, placing second in the league championship match.

Coach Colin Wilson expressed his appreciation for the students' hard work. "They were focused and ready for every match. Discipline was important," Wilson said.

Alpha is currently holding an open registration for students interested in the Alpha Institute programme for themselves, a child or ward. For more information, applications may be collected at 26 South Camp Road (entrance faces Stewart's Auto Sales), email: alphaboysschool@gmail.com, or call 928-1345 for more information.