West Side teens chose East Side public school: News article

Posted by Lori Goldman on Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Many parents of my students are concerned that Vancouver's public schools are not good enough to prepare their children for the best universities.  They think that paying more money for private school is the only way their children will succeed. This is not the case.
I have had a number of students go to elite universities in England, Canada and the USA from the public system in Vancouver.  It is the student that plots his or her future, not the school.

While private schools offer elite care for students, public schools offer many other benefits that are not available in private schools.  Even students whose parents choose private schools for them find that a public school can be a better fit. 
This is an article from June 25, 2015 in the Vancouver Courier.

West Side teens chose East Side public school

For one West Side family, an East Side public school became their schooling of choice over both West Side public and private options.

Teenager Sifti Bhullar visited India, returned home to Vancouver and told her parents she didn’t want to return to her private school. She wanted to attend public school and donate her tuition.

“So we have a big fight at home,” said her father, Hakam Bhullar. “We were arguing as parents, we are working hard to give you a good education.”

Sifti promised she’d get better grades.

Point Grey secondary was closer to their home, but Sifti chose to attend John Oliver secondary, near her father’s veterinarian practice, where she had friends that she’d made through Bollywood dance. She wanted to attend a school with a more multicultural environment.

The Bhullar parents gave Sifti the up to $25,000 they would have spent on her Grade 11 year at Crofton House school for girls.

Sifti gave $5,000 to JO and donated the rest to charities in South Africa and India.

She not only earned grades above 90 per cent but served as her class valedictorian in 2012.

“Our friends started asking us which school is she going to? And for the first two to three months, honestly, I was feeling shy to say she’s going to JO,” Hakam said.

While her parents worried about others’ perceptions, Sifti was busy convincing her brother, Sid, who attended St. George’s boys school, to enrol at JO.

“She told me about the great supporting staff and the whole friendly community that’s in John Oliver, almost like a family rather than a school,” Sid said.

Sid, who entered JO after spring break in Grade 9, was already an accomplished practitioner of taekwondo and was ranked third in the world in his weight division. He’d long achieved high grades. But at JO, the once quiet teen became student council president.

“I used to be a really shy kid in St. George’s, like I wouldn’t even raise my hand,” he said. “With this supporting teachers and staff and this whole community around me, it really opened me up and forced me to get myself out there and forced me to make friends and encouraged me to join clubs and do stuff. I would have never imagined myself running for president, but everyone’s so supportive.”

Sid worked part-time while at JO to raise money to create a rap video called “Won’t Stop” about bullying, which attracted more than 76,000 views on YouTube, and he’s spoken at forums in Surrey about gangs and drugs.

The Bhullars, who immigrated to Canada in the early 1990s, initially chose private school because they could afford it and believed it offered the best education.

“When you go to Surrey and you talk about JO, some names [of gang members] are attached to the school,” Hakam said. “They say, ‘Oh my God, such and such people graduated from that school.’”

He tells them otherwise.

“This is one of the best schools in B.C.,” Hakam said.

JO’s principal, Tim McGeer, agrees.

“There’s a lot of things there that money just can’t buy,” McGeer said. “We’re talking about character, we’re talking about resilience, we’re talking about diversity, we’re talking about the development of compassion. Of course, many schools do this in great ways, both public and private, but we’re particularly proud of what we do here in our community.”

Sifti is studying to be a veterinarian in the U.K.

Sid has been accepted into medical school in Ireland for September.



- See more at: http://www.vancourier.com/community/west-side-teens-chose-east-side-public-school-1.1980265#sthash.DBbvh3nc.dpuf

About Me

Lori in I got my Bachelor of Education degree in the USA but was born and raised in Canada. Working in Asia and with immigrant adults and children for 26 years has given me insights into the difficulties they face in a new country and school system. I like to help adults adjust to and explore the rich and diverse opportunities in Canada while also supporting them in their challenge of parenting in a new culture. I love to help children learn English, develop skills, and gain confidence to succeed in school and life.


“Don't aim at success. The more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side effect of one's personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one's surrender to a person other than oneself. Happiness must happen, and the same holds for success: you have to let it happen by not caring about it. I want you to listen to what your conscience commands you to do and go on to carry it out to the best of your knowledge. Then you will live to see that in the long-run—in the long-run, I say!—success will follow you precisely because you had forgotten to think about it” ― Viktor E. Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning A lack of planning on your part does not constitute and emergency on my part. "Most people don't plan to fail; they fail to plan." ~~John L. Beckley

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