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A collection of portraits and interviews with the first generation of alternative school kids at Alpha Alternative School, one of the oldest free… Read More
A collection of portraits and interviews with the first generation of alternative school kids at Alpha Alternative School, one of the oldest free schools in Canada. In the interviews, Alpha alum share recollections of their time at Alpha, and discuss how being a freeschooler has influenced the path of their life. Read Less
Published:
Alpha Alter­na­tive School (circa 1979), Pho­tog­ra­pher unknown
ALPHA Alter­na­tive School, one of the old­est alter­na­tive schools in Canada, recently cel­e­brated its 40th anniver­sary. It seemed like a good time to take a look at the lives of some of its ear­li­est stu­dents, in order to get a sense of the long-term effects of this rad­i­cal exper­i­ment in coop­er­a­tive edu­ca­tion. ALPHA — A Lot of Par­ents Hop­ing for an Alter­na­tive — was unique in the Toronto pub­lic school sys­tem when it was founded in 1972. There was no home­work, no grades, and no tests. It was taken for granted that chil­dren do much of their learn­ing through play. Stu­dents explored their own inter­ests, begin­ning organ­i­cally with some­thing they wanted to learn about or some­thing they wanted to make or do, and enlist­ing the sup­port of their teach­ers and friends in find­ing the answers to their ques­tions … ALPHA was a glo­ri­ous coun­ter­cul­tural exper­i­ment devised in an age of hope­ful inge­nu­ity and fuelled by a desire for free­dom. Remark­ably, in spite of the many changes that have taken place in the world since ALPHA’s found­ing forty years ago, the school is still here, not just sur­viv­ing, but thriving.
 
[Read the full project description and interviews at Notes from the Field]
Mag­gie Marrelli (née Garrard) ALPHA 1976 to 1984, ages 4 – 12. Stud­ied Fine Arts. Works in Home Improve­ment. Cre­ates art.
Jamie Leonard ALPHA late 1970s to 1980s, ages 4 – 13. Stud­ied Jour­nal­ism at Ryer­son Uni­ver­sity.
Works in Infor­ma­tion Technology/Server Sup­port. Rides, col­lects, and writes about motorcycles.
Kether Gra­ham (née Beaulieu-Urbanski) ALPHA 1975 to 1979 or 1980, ages 4 – 9.
Stud­ied Law Enforce­ment at Seneca Col­lege, then Bak­ing and Pas­try at George Brown. Works for the City of Toronto.
Jen­nifer Ferrari ALPHA 1973 to 1984, ages 4 – 14. Stud­ied at Trent Uni­ver­sity. Works as an Auto­mo­tive Technician.
Ste­fan Lynch Strassfeld ALPHA 1977 – 1984, ages 5 – 12.
Ran an inter­na­tional orga­ni­za­tion for kids of LGBTQ par­ents. Stud­ied Nurs­ing at Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­for­nia, San Fran­cisco.
Works as the direc­tor of the health clinic at Juve­nile Hall, San Francisco.
Flan­nery Fielding ALPHA 1977 to 1985, ages 4 – 11.
Stud­ied Nurs­ing at Ryer­son Uni­ver­sity and Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­for­nia, San Fran­cisco.
Works as a Nurse Prac­ti­tioner in Pal­lia­tive Care. Cre­ates art, sings, and plays the ukelele.
Craw­ford (Crocky) Teasdale ALPHA 1973 to 1978, ages 7 – 8 & 10 – 11.
Stud­ied at the Royal Con­ser­va­tory of Music.
Works as a graphic designer at Maple Leaf Sports and Enter­tain­ment. Makes music.
Mor­gan Jones-Phillips ALPHA 1975 to 1981, ages 4 – 9.
Stud­ied Lan­guages and Lin­guis­tics at York Uni­ver­sity,
French as a Sec­ond Lan­guage at Uni­ver­sité du Québec à Trois Riv­ières,
and Para­medics at Cen­ten­nial Col­lege.
Works as a Para­medic. Does stand-up comedy.
Lucy Falkner ALPHA 1975 to 1978, ages 4 – 7. Stud­ied dance.
Owns and oper­ates a Van­cou­ver dance com­pany, Rhythm City Pro­duc­tions. Teaches dance.
Interviews with the Alpha Alumni can be found at Notesfromthefield.ca
Colour Pho­tographs by Michael Barker
Black and White photographs by F. Robert Open­shaw
Text and Inter­views by Ariel Field­ing