ALPHA 1976 to 1984, ages 4–12. Studied Fine Arts. Works in Home Improvement. Creates art.
I always felt valued—despite the fact I was a rotten little shirker—but one time that springs to mind is when I wrote, directed and narrated a skit for a potluck night. I lost the script at the last minute and it was a total disaster, but everyone cheered at the end and I felt great.
For me ALPHA really was an extension of home and family, as my mum was a teacher and my sister went there as well, but beyond that I have always thought that my relationship with the other students was more like cousins than classmates. The school was so small that we were always together, many of us from the beginning to the end of our time there, so we had our good times and our bad, friendships and conflicts, like any family. The teachers and other adults interacted with us in a warm and accessible way, like aunts and uncles.
I spent a year at Horizon Alternative School, a year at Central Technical School and a year at Inglenook Alternative School before dropping out. At my mainstream high school I was quite shocked by the students vs. teachers mentality, which seemed like such a barrier to learning. In my early twenties I returned to school as a mature student and studied Fine Arts, which I still practice but haven’t made into a career. I informally apprenticed as a handyperson and have run my own home improvement company for the past decade and a bit.
I believe the democratic nature of ALPHA has made me a more sensible person. I also see that quality quite strongly in the people I went to ALPHA with, now that we are all grown up. I just wish I could still call Committee on people.
ALPHA was a home to me, and my classmates were a family. I don’t think you can have a better start in life than that. — Maggie Marrelli
Colour photo by Michael Barker • Black and white photo by F. Robert Openshaw • Text and Interview by Ariel Fielding