Surrey School District’s 3rd Annual Punjabi Speech Fest

THE Surrey School District is offering Punjabi classes in seven secondary and four elementary schools this year. A number of schools get together every year and hold competitions and related activities pertaining to the Punjabi language and the latest such event took place on May 25.

Teachers of Punjabi from four Surrey elementary schools – Beaver Creek, Green Timbers, Newton and Strawberry Hill – conducted their in-school Punjabi speech competitions and selected one student each from grades 5, 6 and 7. These students and their teachers were hosted by Beaver Creek Elementary School for Surrey School District’s 3rd Annual Punjabi Speech Fest.

The participants:

Grade 5: Sukhman Kambo (Green Timbers, The Effects of the Internet), Jaypreen Gill (Newton, Mother Tongue Punjabi), Tashveen Sekhon (Strawberry Hill, Drugs), and Jaskaran Deogun (Beaver Creek, A Very Valuable Thing).

Grade 6: Manpreet Sahota (Newton, The Power of Words), Sahil Koshal (Strawberry Hill, Respect), and Jasmeet Sidhu (Beaver Creek, Media: the Good, The Bad, and The Ugly).

Grade 7: Mehneek Chahal (Newton, High Self Esteem), Navreen Khakh (Strawberry Hill, Self Confidence), Sewa Pandher (Beaver Creek, The Voice of Our Generation).

The judges were Barj Dhahan, Harnarayan Singh, Harman Kaur and Mandeep Patrola-Rai.

The winners:

Grade 5: Jaypreen Gill

Grade 6: Manpreet Sahota

Grade 7: Sewa Pandher.

Jaskaran Deogun was declared as the overall winner by the judges.

There were cultural performances by students from each of the participating schools. Hockey Night in Punjabi commentator Harnaryan Singh and Gurpreet Sian gave a glimpse of their talents. Mandeep displayed her Bhangra skills demonstration.

Surrey-Newton MP Sukh Dhaliwal and MLA Harry Bains conveyed their greetings and commended the students for their speeches.

(L-R) Paul Binning, Harnarayan Singh, Balwant Sanghera, Rajinder Pandher and Mandeep Patrola-Rai.

On behalf of Punjabi Language Education Association (PLEA) Paul Binning, Rajinder Pandher and Balwant Sanghera thanked and congratulated the students, teachers, parents and organizers of the event. Certificates of Appreciation were presented to representatives from each of the participating schools. Student MCs Gurleen Brar and Simrat Sidhu did an excellent job both in English and Punjabi in moving things along. Organizers were led by Harman Pandher.


MEANWHILE, Balwant Sanghera of the Punjabi Language Education Association, noted that Surrey School District has become a great model for Punjabi language in schools. Currently, Punjabi classes are underway in seven secondary and four elementary schools in Surrey. It is likely that in September, there will be another secondary school (Sullivan Heights) offering Punjabi. The four elementary schools where Punjabi classes are under way are: Newton, Green Timbers, Beaver Creek and Strawberry Hill, but low enrollment for Punjabi classes at some of the elementary schools in particular has always been a major concern.

The enrollment figures for the grade 5 classes scheduled for this September are fairly low in two elementary schools – Beaver Creek and Strawberry Hill. It is a major concern to PLEA. It takes a lot of time, energy and effort by many to get any Punjabi classes underway in our schools. PLEA has waged a struggle over the past 23 years to reach this stage.

Sanghera appealed to all well-wishers of Punjabi in general and the parents of grade 4 students at both of these schools to ensure that there are enough students enrolled for these classes. The parents of grade 4 students at Beaver Creek and Strawberry Hill schools should contact the principal of their child’s school immediately and let them know that you are enrolling your child in the Punjabi classes beginning in grade 5 in September. They should act fast. If not done so immediately, it may be too late. It is likely that if the enrollment numbers for grade 5 at both of these schools don’t improve the classes may be cancelled. That will be a major setback not only to PLEA but also to all of the well-wishers of Punjabi.

Sanghera urged the community and parents at all of the Surrey public schools to encourage their children to register for Punjabi in their schools both at the elementary and secondary levels.

For further information, contact Sanghera at 604-836-8976 or Sadhu Binning at 778-773-1886.