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
Cardinal Carter Academy for the Arts.JPG
Artes Dei Gloria
Arts for the Glory of God
36 Greenfield Avenue
Willowdale, North York, Ontario, M2N 3C8
Coordinates 43°45′50″N 79°24′35″W / 43.7640°N 79.4097°W / 43.7640; -79.4097Coordinates: 43°45′50″N 79°24′35″W / 43.7640°N 79.4097°W / 43.7640; -79.4097
School type Catholic High school
Catholic Elementary school
Religious affiliation(s) Roman Catholic
Founded 1990
School board Toronto Catholic District School Board
Superintendent John Shain
Area 4
Area trustee Maria Rizzo
Ward 5
School number 556 / 694550
556 / 694509
Principal Anne Bellissimo
Grades 7-12
Enrollment 692 (2015-16[1])
Language English
Campus Urban
Colour(s) Navy, Red, Gold, Khaki                 
Parish St. Edward
Program Focus Arts Focus
Cyber Arts
Cardinal Carter Academy for the Arts
Catholic Education Centre
(Satellite Campus)
80 Sheppard Avenue East
Willowdale, North York, Ontario, M2N 6E8
Coordinates 43°45′49″N 79°24′28″W / 43.7635°N 79.4078°W / 43.7635; -79.4078
Superintendent John Shain
Area 4
Area trustee Maria Rizzo
Ward 5

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 audition. 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 others being Francis Libermann Catholic High School and St. Michael's Choir School).[2] 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.

Cardinal Carter school community is built upon Gospel values and the love of learning, exemplified by its motto "Artes Dei Gloria" (Arts for the Glory of God).


Following the provincial government funding extension to Roman Catholic high schools in June 1984, the Metropolitan Separate School Board (now the Toronto Catholic District School Board) considered establishing a school for the visual and performing arts.

Cardinal Carter 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. That same year, it was the satellite campus of the newly established Mary Ward Catholic Secondary School. In 1986, the MSSB reached a deal with Tridel, a Canadian condominium developer, to acquire 0.41 acres of St. Edward property owned by the Board. In return, Tridel built a $10 million three-storey school on the board's 1.3 acre property.[3] The first set of auditions were held in January 1990. The school facilities were designed by Makrimichalos Cugini Architects and features a 750-seat auditorium, full orchestra pit, dance, drama, music and art studios, practice and rehearsal rooms.

Before the opening of Cardinal Carter, the building was then temporarily used by St. Bruno Catholic School, located in Downtown Toronto, which was closed due to health problems.[4] Because of budget problems, the MSSB originally delayed the school's opening to September 1991 citing a tax increase to 9.5% and pulled Carter from the budget during its April 26 meeting.[5] However, on May 17, 1990, the MSSB trustees reversed the decision proceeding the opening of Carter as planned.[6]

On September 4, 1990, Cardinal Carter opened its doors to 269 pupils in the seventh, eighth, and ninth grades with Millie Seguin as its founding principal. The school was blessed in 1991 and the first graduates emerged in 1994. One of the school's original students was the daughter of CBC Television's hit show Seeing Things, Louis Del Grande.[6]

Since 2002, the school operates a second campus using the TCDSB's Catholic Education Centre building just across the street.


The primary intake years are grades 7 and 9. Approximately 60 students are admitted in grade 7 and 100 students in grade 9. Admission at senior levels is possible if space is available, and only at certain times of the school year when it is educationally sound to transition students. 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 (Round 1); further audition requirements are then sent out (Round 2).


Students receive a balanced and thorough education in the arts, and through the arts. The specialized and accelerated 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.


Dance students learn both classical ballet and contemporary dance. They also learn about dance theory and composition 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 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.

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.

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 participate in festivals and competitions, such as Kiwanis Music Festival and TCDSB Music Festival. The Music Department performs internationally on biennial music trips.


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.[7]

CCAA Chamber Strings was the only Canadian string orchestra to perform at the Midwest Clinic in Chicago in 2008. CCAA Chamber Strings performed at Carnegie Hall in New York City in 2011.


The Band Department is organized 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.[8] The Wind Symphony performed at the Festival at Carnegie Hall in 2014.


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. Senior students plan and perform their own solo recitals.

Vocalists make up the choir for school Mass.

Students participate in the school's 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.

Visual Arts[edit]

The Visual Arts curriculum covers drawing, painting, sculpture, installation art, photography, printmaking, media studies, performance art, design and information design. Art appreciation, theory and history are inclusive for each grade. Specializations and portfolio preparation for college, university and art based alternatives are provided for all senior students. The Visual Arts program further provides opportunities for students to take part in a variety of outreach community projects, interact with professional artists, experience current gallery trends and take part in interdisciplinary projects.


Students must take a full academic course load in addition to their arts major. The school consistently ranks among the top ten schools in Ontario in terms of academic performance on the EQAO reading, writing, and math tests and the OSSLT test.[9] Cardinal Carter has a Gifted/Enriched program to further accommodate students with individualized needs.

Cardinal Carter 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.[10]


Required tops include a navy blue or white crested golf shirt or a white or light blue dress shirt. Optional tops include a crested cardigan vest, zippered jacket, crewneck pullover or zip polo, all of which must be worn over the golf shirt or dress shirt.

Girls have the option of wearing uniform pants or the kilt as bottoms. In warmer weather, navy uniform shorts may be worn by both sexes. Shoes must be all black.

Accessories that are not permitted include headgear or hats, studded wrist/neck bands or belts, excessive jewelry, and scarves.[11]

Notable alumni[edit]

See also[edit]

Other art schools[edit]


  1. ^ "Cardinal Carter Academy for the Arts". 
  2. ^
  3. ^ Flavelle, Dana - "Cash-hungry school boards looking to sell properties" - Toronto Star, November 5, 1988. Retrieved on December 29, 2015. "In another example of density transfers, the Metro Separate School Board struck a deal with Tridel Ltd. that gave the developer an acre of land plus the density rights over St. Edward's separate school. In exchange, Tridel agreed to build a $10 million school for the arts on the board's remaining 1.3 acres of land."
  4. ^ Ainsworth, Lynn - "School board shuts St. Bruno fro probe of mystery illnesses" - Toronto Star, March 20, 1990. Retrieved on December 29, 2015. "The 400 students who attend St. Bruno's elementary school in the Shaw St. and Davenport area will be moved out of the building and into a new Catholic school at Yonge St. and Sheppard Ave."
  5. ^ Daly, Rita - "Pupils protest art academy's delay" - Toronto Star, May 16, 1990. Retrieved on December 29, 2015. ""We boxed ourselves in, we were so bloody tired at the end of the meeting," he said, referring to the April 26 meeting when Cardinal Carter school was clipped from the budget. Trustees spent a gruelling eight hours that night trying to trim the budget before approving a 9.5 per cent tax hike at 3 a.m."
  6. ^ a b Mahood, Casey - "Board finds money for arts academy" - Toronto Star, May 18, 1990. Retrieved on December 29, 2015. "The school board had already accepted 269 Grades 7, 8 and 9 students from across Metro into the academy after holding auditions in dance, music, fine arts and drama." and "Louis del Grande, star of the former CBC television show Seeing Things, has a daughter accepted into the school. He said the academy will give Christians a chance to win some ground in the artistic community."
  7. ^ Bowkun, Julia. "Strings". Toronto Catholic District School Board. 
  8. ^ Cardinal Carter Academy for the Arts. "Music-Band". Toronto Catholic District School Board. 
  9. ^ "Report Card for Cardinal Carter Academy for the Arts". Fraser Institute. 
  10. ^ Marleay, Kevin (2004-08-23). "Classrooms of Creativity". Macleans. Retrieved 2007-06-23. 
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^ Findlay, Stephanie (15 September 2011). "Mayor Ford's antics breathes new life into Deadboy's graffiti art". Toronto Star. Retrieved 17 September 2011. 

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