Toronto is absolutely full to the brim with wonderful schools — elementary, secondary, and post-secondary institutions — that give the city’s children and youth a promising and diverse education, no doubt leading them on the road to success and happiness. There are a few schools, though, that really stand out.
Girl sitting at desk flipping through textbook by Library and Archives Canada
They have achieved phenomenal levels of prestige and success since their curriculums and programs challenge students above and beyond what an average school’s would do.
The Fraser Institute is a Canadian public policy think tank and its mission is
“to measure, study, and communicate the impact of competitive markets and government intervention on the welfare of individuals.”
Each year, the Institute creates and publishes school performance report cards that are made readily available to the public. Parents use this information to help them decide which schools their children should attend and which schools are better left by the wayside. The Fraser Institute’s ratings and rankings are highly influential and can make or break an educational facility.
Here, we list the top five high schools in the City of Toronto. We have used the Fraser Institute’s findings for 2012–2013 in our research and have compiled our list based on overall scoring, province-wide ranking, and curriculum structure. We are sure that this list will come in handy when it comes to determining which school best suits your child’s needs and aspirations.
St. Michael’s Choir School
At the Choir School, your son will learn in an environment that gives him every opportunity to excel. “Our students acquire the skills and discipline necessary for success in life after graduation,
says Principal Barry White.
White has every reason to boast since his Catholic boys’ school was ranked in the number one spot on the Fraser Institute’s list of the top high schools in Ontario for 2012–2013.
St. Michael’s Choir School is part of the Toronto Catholic District School Board and in order for students to attend this prestigious institution, they must first audition and then undergo a formal interview conducted by a small team of the school’s senior staff. All successful candidates are enrolled in both the school’s academic and musical programs. (Every student must pay a tuition fee that covers the cost of the music program.) Gifted students are enrolled in the Choir School’s Academic Enrichment Program.
Will Fisher by Ryan Teunis
The Choir School was founded in 1937 by John Edward Ronan. It remains one of the oldest schools in the City of Toronto. It is also unique in that it comprises an elementary program and a secondary school program, teaching students from grades 3 to 12. Notable Choir School alumni include jazz musician Matt Dusk, Barenaked Ladies keyboardist Kevin Hearn, and singer Janko Kastelic from the Vienna State Opera.
I basically grew up at this school. I have such fond memories of it; the concerts, the challenging exams, and the teachers who pushed us every single day, wanting us to do better and better. I’d love to be able to go back in time and do it all over again!
reflects Paul, a Choir School alumnus who now works as a lawyer for the City of Toronto.
William Lyon Mackenzie Collegiate Institute
Listed as the second best high school in Toronto by the Fraser Institute, William Lyon Mackenzie Collegiate Institute — lovingly referred to as MAC by its faculty and students — was built in 1960 to accommodate the overflow of students living and learning in the City of Toronto. This popular secondary school was named for Toronto’s first mayor and the leader of the Upper Canada Rebellion of 1837.
William Lyon Mackenzie Collegiate Institute
The scholarly statistics are staggering. Over 90 per cent of MAC’s graduating students are accepted into post-secondary institutions and 50 per cent of its student body earn an 80 per cent average in all of its subjects and specialty courses. Indeed, the school is known throughout the city for its high standards of excellence, its list of programs and courses, and its student clubs. The school’s mission statement is to
“provide, in collaboration with staff, students, parents, and community, challenging programs and a high standard of excellence that meets the needs of all students.”
Canadian television personality Jeanne Beker is a MAC alumnus and so is musician and composer Ben Mink.
USACE adopts DoDEA students by Corps of Engineers
MAC has been gaining quite a lot of media attention lately for its student-run organization called SWITCH — Solar and Wind Initiatives Towards Change — which was founded in 2006. The group’s goal is to make Canada more environmentally friendly through various environmental initiatives, particularly through the use of solar panels in lieu of other, more common and damaging power sources. Some of the organization’s celebrity supporters include environmentalist David Suzuki, Steven Page from the Barenaked Ladies, and the members of Canadian punk rock band Sum 41.
We feel that through our efforts, we’re really making a difference and making the world a far better place,
states John, a senior student at MAC.
Cardinal Carter Academy for the Arts
There seems to be a common thread when it comes to ranking Toronto’s best high schools: three of the best educational institutions are arts schools, including this one. Indeed, Cardinal Carter’s school motto is “Arts for the Glory of God.”
The Fraser Institute has ranked this secondary school number fifteen in Ontario and number three in Toronto. Similar to St. Michael’s Choir School, all students who wish to attend Cardinal Carter must audition first before being enrolled in one of its four arts programs (Drama, Dance, Music, and Visual Arts).
The audition process was really tough to get through. My daughter was so nervous going into it, thinking she would never be accepted, but she made it through and she absolutely loves it there! She’s doing really well and excelling in subjects that she wasn’t performing well in before high school.
admits Joe, whose daughter, Olivia, currently attends school here.
Barberton’s Annual Art Farm by Barberton Community
This is one of the oldest full-functioning arts schools in Canada, with the very first auditions held in January 1990.
Students attending grades 7 to 12 at Cardinal Carter have the chance to take part in the school’s new Information Technology and Business course, which was introduced by the faculty just a couple of years ago.
We strive to offer the best possible curriculum with the intent to maximize students’ creative potential,
states the school’s official website. All graduating students receive both a regular graduations diploma similar to regular secondary schools’ and an additional certificate that recognizes each student’s achievement in the arts. Famous alumni include television host Leah Miller, actress Caterina Scorsone, and musician Joel Joseph. Cardinal Carter Academy for the Arts is part of the Toronto Catholic District School Board.
Etobicoke School of the Arts
This educational institution has the distinction of being the oldest stand-alone arts school in Canada, as it was founded in September 1981. It is a public school that is part of the Toronto District School Board and its programs are comprised of courses running from grades 9 to 12. Etobicoke School of the Arts scored an impressive 8.7 out of 10 on the Fraser Institute’s ranking system and was named Toronto’s best arts high school in 2006 by popular magazine Toronto Life.
Each year, there are approximately 1,000 students who apply for enrolment at Etobicoke School of the Arts, but only 200 of them are lucky enough to be accepted. The school’s audition and interview process is rigid and only allows the brightest and most promising individuals a chance to attend high school in its storied halls and classrooms. Students must identify which field of study will be their major and their minor and they have the following programs to choose from: Drama, Dance, Visual Arts, Music, Film, and Musical Theatre.
World-famous actor Keanu Reeves attended Etobicoke School of the Arts and so did singer Fefe Dobson and Emily Haines, lead singer of the popular alternative rock band Metric.
Dancers in the air by Gabriel Saldana
Shows and concerts are held annually to showcase the students’ prowess and abilities on stage and on paper through visual art. This particular institution has been featured in many popular Canadian print publications, like Maclean’s, the Toronto Star, and The Globe and Mail. It’s also worth mentioning that an exceptionally high number of Etobicoke’s students exceed provincial levels in standardized testing.
This is the best learning environment for my daughter. Yes, she’s ultimately there to learn but she’s also there to express herself through song and dance and the mixture of the two has really made her shine and blossom.
says Susan, a proud parent of a student attending the school.
Ursula Franklin Academy
The Ursula Franklin Academy — known as UFA (pronounced oo-fah) — opened its doors in the fall of 1995. Its curriculum focuses on languages, mathematics, science, and technology. The building is located in the picturesque Toronto neighbourhood of High Park and most of its students come from wealthy families whose parents make an average of $107,200 per year.
Dr. Ursula Franklin is a Canadian metallurgist, research physicist, author, and educator who taught at the University of Toronto for more than 40 years. The school’s teaching style reflects Franklin’s studies and doctrines concerning education and the wellbeing of all Canadian youth.
Dr. Franklin is a great role model for the students who attend this school. When you consider everything that she has accomplished in life and her outlook on the sciences, it’s no wonder that so many parents want their children to study here,
says Ted, father of two whose son is enrolled at the Academy.
The school’s values include high expectations, diversity, self-esteem, democracy, community service, and connected knowledge. In 2010, the school was considered to have the highest academic rating within the Toronto District School Board. It scored 8.7 out of 10 on the Fraser Institute ranking system for high schools.
10 116 AD by Department of education
You see, the students of Toronto are rather spoiled for choice when it comes to choosing a suitable secondary school to attend. Whether they are inclined to study the arts, or sciences, or even computer technology, there is a perfect fit out there available to them. Each of the schools we have profiled in this piece is a highly prestigious educational institution and has a storied background full of history, tradition, and camaraderie. No matter which school you ultimately choose, you are guaranteed to get the best education possible for your child.