Townsend Harris High School

An Insideschools pick
149-11 MELBOURNE AVENUE
QUEENS NY 11367 Map
Phone: (718) 575-5580
Website: Click here
Admissions: selective, by application
Principal: ANTHONY D. BARBETTA
Neighborhood: Flushing/ College Pt.
District:25
Grade range: 9-12
Parent Coordinator: DAFNE AMSTUTZ MANHART
Humanities & Interdisciplinary
Wheelchair Accessible
Screened

Buses: Q17, Q20A, Q25, Q58, Q64, Q88

What's special:

High levels of scholarship and student engagement

The downside:

Secluded location

InsideSchools Review

Our review:

One of the most demanding schools in the city, Townsend Harris High School combines high academic expectations with a well-rounded high school experience. All students take two years of Greek or Latin and at least one of a modern language: Spanish, French, Hebrew or Japanese. Latin students place in national competitions and 95 percent score above 80 percent on the Regents exam.

With just over 1,000 students, the school combines some of the benefits of very small and very large schools.  “We are big enough to have diversity but small enough that everyone knows each other,” says Principal Kenneth Bonamo. Students are encouraged to think creatively, not merely to repeat what they have learned in textbooks.  “By the time they’re in 11th grade they could walk into any business and say ‘what’s your problem?’ and solve it,” the principal said.

[In August 2012 Anthony Barbetta became principal. He came from Thomas Edison Career and Technical Education High School in Queens where he was principal.]

Classes are a blend of traditional and progressive with students modeling math problems on the board and teachers asking high-level “why” questions to deepen critical thinking. The school’s rich science classes allow students to take a technology research project lab starting in 10th grade.  They conduct research projects of their choice with organizations like Queens College, NYU and Rockefeller. One student created a computer modeling of high-density polyethylene for use in hip replacements. Students may also take classes at nearby Queens College.

The school prides itself on its Ephebic Oath, “I shall not leave my city any less but rather greater than I found it.” Students are encouraged to take part in internships and community service. Rather than a traditional bell system, a warning bell sounds five minutes before the end of each class and classical music plays over the loudspeaker in between classes, though it is often drowned out by passing students. While the building is cheery and well-kept, the location, far from the nearest subway line, is a drawback.

All classes are honors level. Students take two English classes in 9th grade. All students take Advanced Placement (AP) World History and AP US History. Every term, students work on projects called “collaterals” for each subject. These range from PowerPoint presentations and papers to experiential learning like putting together a culinary tour of Queens while studying local communities.

The school has long had a reputation as pressure cooker, with mountains of homework. But the students we spoke to on our visit said the homework load is demanding but manageable, at around two to three hours a night, and teachers now coordinate to limit the number of tests and collaterals due on the same day. “It’s been hard but once you experience it it’s not that bad,” one 9th grade girl told us. “It’s all about time management.” Parents also say that communication with the school has improved and that Bonamo is accessible.

There is no dress code but students wear their ID cards around their necks and are only allowed to visit their lockers at lunch. About 70 percent of the student body is female.

Each of the 40+ clubs and organizations has a community service requirement and participates in fundraising activities. The organization SING puts on 100 percent student-produced performances each year in addition to the school's spring play.

Students have daily physical education classes, and freshmen must run up to three miles a week. Upperclassmen may choose from a variety of electives like volleyball and weightlifting. One-third of students participate on the school’s 25 sports teams and all students take part in at least one activity per year.

About 40 percent of graduates attend top-ranked colleges and notable colleges and universities such as SUNY Binghamton, Macaulay Honors College at CUNY and SUNY Stony Brook University. In 2011, Newsweek ranked the school 78th in its top 500 schools in the nation.

Special education: Very few students have IEPs, though the school does accept students with special needs if they meet admissions criteria.  

Admissions:  Students must score above the 90th percentile on standardized tests. They are then ranked by neighborhood and selected by taking the top applicant in each group. Although admission is citywide, some 95 percent of students come from Queens. (Aryn Bloodworth, May 2011)

InsideStats

Click tabs above to see school stats

At a glance

Shared campus? No

This school is in its own building

Number of Students 1151

Average Daily Attendance 98%

Uniforms? No

Metal detectors? No

Students at this school

Asian

  
58%

Black

  
6%

Hispanic

  
13%

White

  
22%

Free Lunch

  
51%

Special ed

  
1%

English Language Learners

  
0%

INCOMING STUDENTS' PROFICIENCY: 4.00 2.80 CITYWIDE AVERAGE


1 = Far below grade level 2 = Below grade level 3 = At grade level 4 = Above grade level

Safety & vibe

ARE CLASSES BIG?

Number of students in an average english class

30 25 CITYWIDE AVERAGE

DO STUDENTS LIKE THE TEACHERS?

How many students say their teachers inspire them to learn?

70% 63% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

DO TEACHERS LIKE THE PRINCIPAL?

How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?

80% 78% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

IS THIS SCHOOL SAFE?

How many students say they feel safe in hallways, bathrooms and locker rooms?

97% 82% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

 
 

How many teachers say order and discipline are maintained in the school?

96% 77% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

HOW IS
ATTENDANCE?

How Many Students are Chronically Absent?

3% 38% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Who graduates

Class of 2013

How many 2009 freshmen graduated within 4 years?

100% 70% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many 2007 freshmen graduated within 6 years?

100% 78% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Previous Years

How many 2008 freshmen graduated within 4 years?

100% 66% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many 2008 freshmen earned an advanced regents diploma within 4 years?

99% 12% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many 2006 freshmen graduated within 6 years?

100% 75% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many 2008 freshmen dropped out within 4 years?

0% 11% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

College prep

Does this school offer a college preparatory curriculum?

How many students took an AP or IB class and scored at least a "3" on the AP exam or a "4" on the IB exam?

81%

How Many Students took a College Course and Got a "C" or Higher?

9%

How many students passed a Regents exam for algebra 2, physics or chemistry?

100%

Are students ready for college?

How many 2009 freshmen graduated in four years with test scores high enough to enroll at CUNY without remedial help?

100% 27% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

SAT reading scores

637
414 CITYWIDE AVERAGE 496 NATIONWIDE AVERAGE

How many 2009 freshmen graduated in four years and enrolled in college?

100%

SAT math scores

660
425 CITYWIDE AVERAGE 514 NATIONWIDE AVERAGE

Is the guidance counseling helpful?

How many students say that this school provides helpful counseling on college or job-seeking?

83% 76% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Special ed & ELL

How well does this school serve students with disabilities?

How many special ed students starting school in 2008 graduated within 4 years?

NA 45% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many special ed students starting school in 2006 graduated within 6 years?

NA 53% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many students with disabilities spend most of the day with non-disabled peers?

100% 68% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many teachers say students with disabilities are included in all activities?

90% 89% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How well does this school serve English language learners?

How many English language learners starting school in 2008 graduated within 4 years?

40% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many English language learners starting school in 2006 graduated within 6 years?

58% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Programs and Admissions

School admission priorities:

  1. Open to New York City residents

Source: High school directory

Intensive Academic Humanities

Screened

A humanities-based approach to excellence in all subject areas, achieved through extensive literature and writing courses, advanced courses and electives in English, Social Studies, Modern and Classical Languages, Math, Science, Social Science and Science Research, and a required Queens College Humanities Seminar.

Selection Criteria

  • English (90-100) , Math (90-100) , Science (90-100) , Social Studies (90-100)
  • Math Levels: 3-4 ; English Language Arts Levels: 3-4

There may be additional selection criteria, see the High School Directory for more information

Academics

AP COURCES: Calculus AB, Calculus BC, Economics: Macro, English Literature and Composition, Environmental Science, European History, French Language, Government and Politics: United States, Human Geography, Japanese Language and Culture, Latin: Vergil, Music Theory, Psychology, Spanish Language, Statistics, United States History, World History

Online: N/A

Language classes: Classical Greek, French, Hebrew, Japanese, Latin, Spanish

Source: High school directory

Sports/Clubs

EXTRACURRICULAR: American Classic League Honor Awards Society, Archon Student Service Honor Society, Arista National Honor Society, Art Shows, Brain Bee, The Classic School Newspaper, Consultative Council, Crimson and Gold yearbook, Fed Challenge, Festival of Nations, Freshman Grade Leaders, Japanese Honor Society, The Journal of Science Research, Junior Grade Leaders, Math Team, Mock Trial, Model United Nations, Moot Court; Mu Alpha Theta Honor Society, New York City Science & Engineering Fair and Junior Science & Humanities Symposium, NYC & NYS History Day, NYS Science Honor Society, Quantum Cat Literary/science magazine, The Phoenix Literary/art magazine, School Musical, School Play, Science Olympiad Team, Senior Council, SING, Sophomore Grade Leaders, Spring Concert, Student Government; More than 40 clubs including: Amnesty International, Anime, Arabic, Chess, Cinephiles, Creative Writers' Workshop, Dance Dance Revolution (DDR), Drama, Educate to Elevate, Fashion, Free the Children, Glamour Gals, Glee Club, Jewish Culture, Key Club, Knitting, Latin Dance, Muslim Student Association, Photography, Red Cross, SAGES, Scrabble, Seekers, Society for the Preservation of the Earth

BOYS PSAL SPORTS: Baseball, Basketball, Bowling, Cross Country, Fencing, Handball, Indoor Track, Outdoor Track, Soccer, Swimming, Tennis, Volleyball

GIRLS PSAL SPORTS: Basketball & JV Basketball, Bowling, Cross Country, Fencing, Football, Handball, Indoor Track, Outdoor Track, Soccer, Softball, Swimming, Tennis, Volleyball & JV Volleyball

Other schools sports: Co-ed Baseball, Soccer and Swim Clubs (off-season)

Source: High school directory

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