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Sunrise Waldorf the top valley school in Fraser Institute elementary rankings
The report cards are in. Sunrise Waldorf School, go to the head of the class.
Sunrise Waldorf, located on Lakeside Road just outside of Duncan, is indeed on the rise as the highest-ranking valley school in the latest Fraser Institute rankings of B.C. elementary schools released Monday.
Sunrise Waldorf garnered a mark of 8.5 out of 10 based on 10 academic indicators using data from the annual Foundation Skills Assessments administered by the B.C. Ministry of Education for the 2012-13 school year. There are 982 public and independent schools on the list and Sunrise Waldorf earned a prominent position at No. 78.
"We often don't get ranked because we have classes that are too small for them to include in the rankings,'' said Kevin McDuff, who's in his second year as principal of the school.
There are just 162 students in the school from Kindergarten to Grade 8.
"It's up a bit this year, but we're pretty steady,'' said McDuff of admission numbers.
The test scores factored into the Fraser Institute rankings are for Grades 4 and 7. The results for Sunrise Waldorf are obviously being greeted as great news for the school.
"It's nice to have that outside acknowledgement,'' said McDuff. "I think in some ways our school is not so visible in our community. This gives us more visibility in the community. We're tucked out in a remote area.''
Austrian scientist and philosopher Rudolph Steiner founded the first Waldorf school in Europe in 1919 and Sunrise Waldorf has been around since 1980. Families from around the world have moved here to specifically enroll their children in the rural school.
"We attract an amazing number that move to our area for our school,'' said McDuff.
Count McDuff among them. He had enough of big-city life after 52 years in Los Angeles and has been here now for nine years.
"It was a huge change,'' he conceded. "Obviously, they're coming here for Waldorf education and I think the fact we're on a beautiful island with a good climate is a huge attraction for some people.''
"Sunrise Waldorf School offers a developmentally appropriate, balanced approach to education that integrates the arts and academics for children from preschool through eighth grade,'' reads information on the school's website. "It encourages the development of each child's sense of truth, beauty, and goodness, and provides an antidote to violence, alienation, and cynicism. The aim of the education is to inspire in each student a lifelong love of learning, and to enable them to fully develop their unique capacities.''
The Grade 7 class will be doing an art show at the Robert Bateman Foundation building in Victoria this year. The school has even made a splash in local sports, with its midget basketball team winning the district championship the last two years.
Among the procedures that Sunrise follows is limiting children's exposure to television and other media. They don't use computers in school.
"We like to tell stories and like to have them use their imaginations to fill in the pictures,'' said McDuff.
The students also have the same teacher from Grades 1 through 8 for the main lessons in math, language arts, etc.
"That's boosted by a number of other subjects taught by other teachers,'' McDuff pointed out.
The school has about 22 teachers and "they all have Waldorf training,'' he added.
Rankings of the other valley elementary schools on the Fraser Institute list (out of 982):
92. Queen Margaret's School (8.3).
220. Bench (7.2)
243. Maple Bay (7.1).
302. Ecole Mill Bay (now closed) (6.8).
474. Duncan Elementary (now Mt. Prevost) (6.0).
531. Discovery (5.8).
567. Queen of Angels (5.6).
620, Crofton Elementary (5.4).
649. Cobble Hill and Alex Aitken (5.3).
769. Duncan Christian (4.6).
819. Chemainus Elementary (4.3).
860. Tansor (4.0).
882. Drinkwater (3.8).
971. Alexander (1.5).
974. Khowhemun (1.2).