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Before going to class, they go to gurdwara

india Updated: Feb 04, 2014 18:03 IST

The 360 students at Khalsa School Malton sit in neatly-formed rows at 8.30am in the gurdwara adjoined to their school, and for 20 minutes, one of their administrators recites a prayer in Punjabi.

"The values are so strong," said Surinder Kaur, director of human resources at the school. "Our students are very alert. It's honest living, praying to the God and modern values - these are the values I try to instil in them."

Khalsa School Malton ranked a perfect 10 in this year's Fraser Institute Elementary School Report Card.

According to the 2012-13 Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO) scores, Grade 6 students scored 100% in all three categories of reading, writing and math, while Grade 3 students were 100% in writing and math and 96% in reading.

"We really focus on reading comprehension and seeing if they actually understand the different strategies for reading, writing and different math concepts," said Grade 3 teacher Sandeep Kaur. "We really focus on the groundwork to being able to understand newer concepts."

When this private Sikh religious school opened its doors in 2011, it only had an enrolment of 42 students from junior kindergarten to Grade 12, with tuition of $4,000 per student.

Now, interest is beginning to pick up, not only from the Brampton area, but also India and the United States.

"We have a reasonable number of students in a classroom - no more than 25," said Sarvjit Singh, who works alongside his wife Surinder. "They learn Sikh values, so that's why we don't have any discipline problems. We do involve the parents a lot. The students do extra practice."

Khalsa School Malton is also the first International Baccalaureate Sikh school in North America.

Besides small class sizes, Sarvjit said having a tight community also helps student success thrive. Older siblings of elementary school students may also attend the school. And, because there is an emphasis on Sikh culture in many classes, it builds the feeling of being in a family.

In Amandeep Singh's Grade 6 music class, 10 students sit barefoot in a circle playing musical instruments. Some practice the harmonium, while others play tabla drums, keyboards and sitars while chanting "shabad" religious hymns. All students in the school will get a chance to perform during the morning prayer, which is broadcast on public access TV.