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About ESA

ESA Grads Speak about ESA

The Etobicoke School of the Arts (ESA) is an arts-focused non-semestered high school located in Toronto, Canada.  Founded on September 8, 1981, we have the distinction of being the oldest, free standing arts-focused high school in Canada.  We are auditioned-based.  Students from across the city can apply for consideration.

Academic Excellence

Our academic curriculum offers a full range of course selections in the areas of mathematics, sciences, languages and social sciences, while giving you the flexibility to be fully engaged in your arts major. Students must balance a rigorous workload with numerous extra curricular performances. Students graduate with an Ontario Secondary School Diploma. Our graduates are very successful in gaining admission to post-secondary institutions, including universities, colleges and various arts schools.

Over 80 per cent of our students pursue post-secondary studies at the university level in such disciplines as: engineering, music, life sciences, visual arts, economics, philosophy, journalism, drama and film.

Etobicoke School of the Arts is very well known in North America. Our well-deserved reputation for excellence draws students from across the province.  Our students have also excelled on the Provincial Grade 10 Literacy Test and on the Grade 9 EQAO Results.

Student Interest Programs

Our special interest programs include dance, drama, film, instrumental music, music theatre or visual arts. Students work with our committed staff in an exciting and dynamic curriculum tailored to each art. The learning environment is vibrant, engaging, welcoming and extremely busy. Students must study a minimum of two arts credits of their major each year. Learn more >>

Program Selection Requirements

Students need 30 credits to graduate. All students in grades 9 to 11 inclusive will be expected to take a full program of eight credits each year. Course changes can be made only until the end of September. Grade 12 students must take a minimum of six credits.

Special Guests – Learning from Professionals

We collaborate and learn from professional visiting artists in many areas of study, including choreographers, music accompanists, musicians, costume and set designers and set designers. More >>

Student Life

We run on a two-day schedule with four periods a day, in a two week cycle with afternoon classes switching every week to accommodate rehearsals.
     ESA students are committed to a performance schedule that includes participation in music concerts, drama productions, dance shows, film shows and visual arts exhibitions. Our students rehearse at school for many hours beyond the school day, and we often work until late at night. This is a dynamic and creative world for practice, performance and creation – individually, or in small or large groups throughout the school.
     Our student-run athletic council supports numerous sports. Intramural sport offerings are decided based on student interest. Our common lunch hour allows all students to participate in intramural sports, and we compete in the West Region of the TDSSAA.
     Our students participate in numerous clubs such as Student Council, the Black Student Association, our annual concert Solstice, ECOschools and more.
Learn more >>


Over 80 per cent of our students pursue post-secondary studies. Although many pursue a career in the arts after high school, just as many attend top college and universities to pursue challenging academic programs. Our science department has graduating students attending top universities such as Queen’s for pure sciences, Waterloo for computer engineering, McMaster for life sciences, Western for biological and medical sciences, McGill for arts and science and Guelph for environmental science. Learn more >>

Parent/Guardian Involvement

Parents and guardians actively support ESA through attending events & performances, participating in activities like the Big Dig and through Parent Council and SESAT (aka “Supporters of Etobicoke School of the Arts Talent”).


In addition to a 550 seat auditorium for performances, the school offers first rate equipment in spaces especially designed for a study of the arts.
We have two dance studios with barres and mirrored walls. We have a photography room and four spacious studios for art making. Music hosts a listening lab, an electronic piano lab, small practice rooms and separate rooms for vocal, string and wind instruction. Drama students have access to a small studio theatre and large open spaces for acting instruction and practice.
     All programs in the arts and academics are supported by a resource centre with forty-four computers and an extensive collection of books. 

Learning Resources

We support our students with an extensive collection of learning resources. The Elizabeth Downie media library provides books, periodicals, CDs, DVDs, musical scores, Internet access and specialized electronic databases for all subject areas. It houses a cross-curricular lab of 30+ networked computers.
We have a multi-media lab with computers with Adobe Creative Suite CS software and extensive computer peripherals; a specialized music and film lab; and a darkroom and mini digital photography lab. Every classroom has Internet access capability.