Glarea Elevated Learning school co-founder Rita Rai (left) with Traci Baillie, head of school, in a classroom located above one of the rinks at Surrey’s Excellent Ice. (Photo: Tom Zillich)

PHOTOS: Inside Surrey’s new in-rink private school, which isn’t all about hockey

Glarea Elevated Learning school has opened at Excellent Ice

Students at Surrey’s newest private school have a rink-side view hockey fans would love.

Glarea Elevated Learning classes began Sept. 14 in renovated space at the Excellent Ice facility, in the Panorama area.

It’s billed as the Lower Mainland’s only school with multiple in-house hockey rinks.

“It’s an exciting time to be at the forefront of this, a different kind of education in Surrey,” said Traci Baillie, head of school, as she and Glarea co-founder Rita Rai gave the Now-Leader a tour.

“It’s safer, it’s cleaner, it’s a smaller number of students, we’ve got arts and sports and so much more,” Baillie said. “Every school has had challenges to open this fall, but it’s certainly a great feat to start a new school like this in a pandemic, and we’re on target.”


The school’s four classrooms and “flex” space occupy the second-floor former restaurant/bar and viewing areas at the three-sheet arena, opened in 1999 by Surrey-based Lark Group. The cafeteria/restaurant will remain open to Excellent Ice patrons after school hours, which are from 7:45 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Building expansion plans were revealed in a report to Surrey city council in February 2019, with hockey originally a lone focus of the planned “academy,” and other sports and arts programs since added.

• READ MORE: Private school plans at expanded Surrey ice arena emphasize student ‘grit’

“We’re not a hockey school just because our classrooms are located above a rink,” Baillie emphasized. “That’s just part of what we do. We do a skating program, a martial arts program, our Arts Umbrella and other programs. It’s an appreciation of all sports.”

The school name means “grit” in Latin.

“Glarea Elevated Learning has re-imagined the modern school system by utilizing Challenge Based Learning within an all-inclusive Arts and Sport environment focused on connection and development,” explains a post at

To start, students from Kindergarten to Grade 5 are enrolled in the school, with expansion to higher grades to follow in phases, as the redeveloped facility grows in size.

“Right now we have students in every grade, up to Grade 5, with a max 10 students per class,” Rai said. “This year we still have spots available in each class, with our maximum number of students being 60, and that number will grow every year.”

(Story continues below video, from July 2020)

Rai said word is spreading about the school’s “different way of doing things.

“One of our families moved here from Vancouver,” she noted. “They left a private school there, sold their house and moved to South Surrey just to attend this school. It’s because we have a low number of students per class and also because of our air-filtration system. This is where they feel safe.”

Added Baillie: “We’ve had teachers who want to come here because of everything provided here. It’s an exciting time to be part of something new like this.”

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