Cardinal Carter Academy for the Arts

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For schools of a similar name, see Cardinal Carter (disambiguation).
Cardinal Carter Academy for the Arts
Cardinal Carter Academy Logo.png
Artes Dei Gloria
Arts for the Glory of God
Cardinal Carter Academy for the Arts.JPG
36 Greenfield Avenue
Willowdale, North York, Ontario, M2N 3C8, Canada
Public transit access TTC:
North/South: 97 Yonge
Rapid Transit: Sheppard-Yonge
School number 556 / 694550
556 / 694509
School board Toronto Catholic District School Board
Religious affiliation Roman Catholic
Superintendent John Shain
Area 4
Area trustee Maria Rizzo
Ward 5
Principal Anne Bellissimo
Vice Principals Franco Rubino
Patrick Cleary
School type Catholic High school
Catholic Elementary school
Grades 7-12
Language English
Campus Urban
Colours Navy, Red, Gold, Khaki                 
Founded 1990
Enrollment 724 (2012-13[1])
Parish St. Edward
Specialist High Skills Major none
Program Focus Arts Focus
Cyber Arts
Homepage Carter Academy for the Arts

Cardinal Carter Academy for the Arts (CCAA, Cardinal Carter, or Carter) is a Catholic arts high school located in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Admission to the school is granted through a successful audition and personal interview. Serving students from grade 7 to 12, it is one of three schools in the Toronto Catholic District School Board that is an elementary and secondary hybrid (the other being Francis Libermann Catholic High School and St. Michael's Choir School)[2] and one of the oldest arts schools in Canada (the other being Etobicoke School of the Arts).

Cardinal Carter school community is built upon Gospel values and the love of learning.

In 2013, the Fraser Institute ranked it the top high school in Toronto based on academic performance.[3]


Throughout the 1980s the Metropolitan Separate School Board (now the Toronto Catholic District School Board) considered establishing a school for the visual and performing arts. It was determined that students with clearly identified talents in the arts, regardless of their socio-economic status, race or cultural background, should have the opportunity to develop those talents within the TCDSB system. With the commitment and interest of parents and students, the first set of auditions were held in January 1990. Five hundred applications were processed for 250 positions and Cardinal Carter Academy for the Arts opened in September 1990, serving students in grades 7,8 and 9. It is the first and the oldest Catholic art school in Canada.

Cardinal Carter's site was originally the South Campus of Mary Ward Catholic Secondary School from 1985-1986. The school was built at the former St. Edward Catholic School which moved to the North York Board of Education's closed Burnett Public School on Eddiefield Avenue in 1985.

The school was named after Cardinal Gerald Emmett Carter, Ordinary of the Archdiocese of Toronto since 1979, a strong supporter of education and a distinguished patron of the arts.

Admission Process[edit]

To gain admission to the school, students must complete a successful audition and a personal interview. They must also submit an Arts Reference Letter and Classroom Teacher Reference Form. Most students apply to enter the Grade 7 or 9 year. Admission at senior levels is possible if space is available. Audition requirements differ with every arts area.

Drama majors must complete a workshop and perform a memorized monologue. Dance students must participate in a 90 minute dance class and perform a one minute improvisation. All music students will be given an ear training/rhythm test; furthermore, instrumentalists need to sight read a piece of music and perform a solo piece, while vocalists need to sing 'O Canada' without accompaniment. Visual artists must first submit a portfolio of assigned exercises. The strongest portfolios are then invited for an audition and interview.


Students receive a balanced and thorough education in the arts, and through the arts. The specialized arts program allows students to concentrate in one of four majors: Music (Vocal, Band, Strings), Drama, Dance, or Visual Arts. There is a theoretical and practical aspect within each art major.

Students are required to maintain a 60% average in their respective arts specialty. If a student should fail (receive a grade lower than 50%), he or she will be asked to leave the school. Students must earn 2 arts credits in one school year, 1 credit per semester. In Grade 12, students have the option to only take 1 art credit.

Cardinal Carter Academy for the Arts has an 'Arts Appreciation Day' in which students spend time in other arts areas. This allows students to build a greater appreciation for the arts and for the talents of their peers.

The school has a state-of-the-art professional theatre that is shared by all arts areas for performances.

The school community puts on a large musical every two years in which students from all arts areas participate. Some productions include Les Miserables, Footloose, and Crazy for You. Many school productions have been publicized by the media, including the Toronto Star and SNAP Magazine.[4]

Students receive a certificate recognizing their achievement in the arts along with the regular graduation diploma.

With the progress made over the years and with the continued enthusiasm and dedication of all, CCAA will not only continue to be an arts school, but a school that embodies the spirit of their motto: "Arts for the Glory of God" (Artes Dei Gloria).


Dance students are trained in both ballet and modern techniques. Typically, one semester is devoted to ballet and the other semester is devoted to modern. Dance majors learn about dance theory and composition. They also learn how to choreograph original performances. The Dance Department goes on regular trips to watch performances by ballet companies.

Dancers perform in Outreach performances, school liturgies and Dance Night, a year-end performance. Every two years, the Dance Department puts on a Christmas production of The Nutcracker.

The Dance faculty has extensive dance experience to help each dancer grow artistically and technically.

The Dance facilities include two 40 feet wide, 30 feet deep studios with floor to ceiling mirrors, permanent ballet barres, and non-slip sprung hardwood floors.


Students explore the following areas: voice, movement, theatre games, mask, mime, musical theatre, improvisation, stage combat, theatre history, outreach performances, short film production and directing. There is a variety of exciting performance opportunities available to students over the course of the school year. Drama students also participate in the Canadian Improv Games, the Sears Drama Festivals and various short film competitions. Drama students also perform in School Liturgies, Spirit Assemblies and the Black History Assembly in February.

In order to broaden their experience, students regularly work with a variety of guest artists from the professional community in such areas as scene study, script writing, musical theatre, sword work and mask.

Drama students regularly participate in Outreach Performances in elementary and secondary schools. The Drama Department have staged productions such as Annie, Godspell, and Grease.

Instrumental Music[edit]

The Instrumental Music Department includes Strings and Band. Music students perform many times during the year and host a Christmas and spring concert. Music students frequently compete in festivals and competitions, such as Kiwanis Music Festival and TCDSB Music Festival. The Music Department performs internationally on biennial music trips. Music Students also perform for school liturgies.

There are 5 rehearsal classrooms and 3 practice studios. Students have the option of taking part in private lessons at school during instructional time at an additional cost. The private teachers include some of the top professional musicians in the country. The private teachers are performers in the National Ballet Orchestra, Canadian Opera Company and Symphony, Toronto Symphony Orchestra, and more.


The Strings Department is organized into four orchestras. The Junior Strings Orchestra consists primarily of the students in Grades 7, 8 and 9. Intermediate Strings include students in Grades 9 and 10. Senior Strings primarily include the students in Grades 11 and 12, with deserving younger musicians integrated into the ensemble. The Senior Chamber Strings are a chamber string orchestra who perform select standard repertoire for String Orchestra.

The Cardinal Carter String Orchestras have earned over 100 first place finishes in the Kiwanis Music Festival.[5] CCAA has been the four-time recipient of the Brian McCool Award, awarded to the school with the best overall standing in the Kiwanis Music Festival. Multiple scholarships have been awarded including: The Best String Ensemble in Ontario (2000-2010), and the George Heinl and Company Award for Best String Ensemble (2004). The CCAA Strings were invited to perform at the Ontario Music Educators’ Association Conference in 2008.

The CCAA Strings were the Kiwanis Showcase Scholarship winners in 2010, 2011 and 2012. CCAA Chamber Strings was the only Canadian string orchestra to be invited to perform at the Midwest Clinic in Chicago in 2008. CCAA Chamber Strings performed at Carnegie Hall in New York City in 2011.


All Band students are placed into the following ensembles: Junior Concert Band, which plays repertoire at the 200-300 level, Intermediate Concert Band, which plays repertoire at the 300-400 level, and Wind Symphony, which plays repertoire at the 400-500 level.

The Band Department regularly participates in the Ontario Band Association Concert Band Festival, in which it has won consecutive Gold Awards since 2006.[6] The Wind Symphony has traveled nationally and internationally to win the following awards: Gold Award and Best Ensemble at the Heritage Music Festival in Chicago, IL (2010) and New York City, NY (2008), Superior (1st place) at the 2007 Rhythms International Festival in Montreal, and Gold Award in the 2006 MusicFest National Finals in Ottawa.


In all vocal music courses, students study theory, history, listening, dictation, ear training, sight singing/solfège and prepare for performance of choral repertoire, vocalises, and solos. There are opportunities to compose music and attend performances throughout the city. Senior students plan and perform their own solo recitals.

Vocalists make up the choir for school Mass.

Students participate in the schools annual Christmas and Spring Music Concerts as well as the annual Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols, held at various churches in the Greater Toronto Area. Students have performed the Duruflé Requiem with the Brampton Symphony Orchestra, sacred concerts with Elmer Iseler Singers, and several performances of the Missa Gaia. In 2005, the Choir traveled to Ottawa to participate in nationally televised Canada Day performances with the National Arts Orchestra. In 2012, the vocalists of Cardinal Carter sang the National Anthem at a Blue Jays game.

The Cardinal Carter Choirs have traveled internationally to perform and compete. In 2012, Vocalists traveled to New York to be guest performers at St. Patrick's Cathedral. In 2010, the Choir completed a tour around Boston.

Visual Arts[edit]

Visual Arts majors learn the discipline of fine art. The Visual Arts curriculum covers architecture, photography, printmaking, painting (oil, watercolour, acrylic, fresco, egg tempera), sculpture (both additive and subtractive), fashion, furniture and figure drawing. Each unit of study involves a theoretical aspect while allowing students to expand their technical skills and creativity.

Students learn comprehensive art history and become familiar with all major art movements and the key works within. Art majors learn art theory, which includes the Elements and Principles of Design. Students also learn how to properly analyze and critique works of art. At the end of the school year, every student must compile a portfolio of their work to present to his or her peers.

The school lobby has been designed to serve as the main gallery equipped with a variety of display areas and gallery lighting. Ongoing exhibits throughout the school year feature student works managed by senior students through their curatorial studies.

Murals completed by Visual Artists can be found all over the school. In addition, student murals can be found in the Catholic Education Centre, the Head Office for the Toronto Catholic District School Board.

Senior artists (Grades 11 and 12) participate in figure drawing with live models. Portfolio preparation for college, university and art based alternatives is provided for all senior students. The Visual Arts Department regularly goes on trips to the Art Gallery of Ontario, Distillery District and galleries along Queen Street West to enhance students' artistic education, improve critiquing skills, and in the case of the last two, appreciate local artists.

The Visual Arts facilities include two studios with skylights for natural light, a photography lab, individual portfolio storage for students, clay and fusing kilns, and Mac technology.


In 2013, Cardinal Carter Academy for the Arts was ranked the number one high school in Toronto by the Fraser Institute. This rating was based on the results of standardized testing administered by the provinces. The school received a rating of 9.5/10 while the average public high school rating was 6.0/10.[3]

In the 2011-2012 school year, 98% of Grade 9 Academic math students passed the E.Q.A.O at level 3 or 4, making Cardinal Carter come in second place in the province of Ontario.[7]

Cardinal Carter Academy for the Arts has earned a spot among the top 40 schools in the country as chosen by Macleans and Today’s Parent Magazine. CCAA was selected as a runner up in the "Classrooms of Creativity" category.[8]


Females have the option of wearing pants or a red and navy plaid kilt as bottoms. In warmer weather, navy blue uniform shorts may be worn. Tops for both sexes include a light blue or white Oxford shirt, navy or white golf shirts, a navy pullover or zip up sweater, and a button-up vest (be sure to have the school crest on shirts and sweaters). Kilts must be worn with navy blue knee socks. Plaid ties are optional. Shoes must be all black (including the sole) and cover both the heel and toe. In the winter black boots are allowed to be worn.

For performances, all Music students must wear a full length white Oxford shirt, vest, tie, kilt (for females) or pants (for males) and all black shoes.

Notable alumni[edit]



See also[edit]

Similar art schools


  1. ^ "Cardinal Carter Academy for the Arts". 
  2. ^
  3. ^ a b Kitching, Chris. "Think Tank Ranks Ontario High Schools". CP24. Retrieved 20 April 2013. 
  4. ^ Crawford, Trish (2 November 2009). "High School Musical: Stage One". Toronto Star. Retrieved 21 April 2013. 
  5. ^ Bowkun, Julia. "Strings". Toronto Catholic District School Board. 
  6. ^ Cardinal Carter Academy for the Arts. "Music-Band". Toronto Catholic District School Board. 
  7. ^ "2011-2012 Grade 9 E.Q.A.O Math Results" (PDF). Toronto Catholic District School Board. 
  8. ^ Marleay, Kevin (2004-08-23). "Classrooms of Creativity". Macleans. Retrieved 2007-06-23. 
  9. ^ Findlay, Stephanie (15 September 2011). "Mayor Ford's antics breathes new life into Deadboy's graffiti art". Toronto Star. Retrieved 17 September 2011. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 43°45′51″N 79°24′37″W / 43.764048°N 79.410333°W / 43.764048; -79.410333