Townsend Harris ranks fifth in the nation and first in New York State

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On April 21, U.S. News & World Report released their “2020 Best High Schools Rankings.” In these rankings, Townsend Harris High School ranked first in New York State and fifth in the nation. In an email addressed to the THHS community, Principal Brian Condon congratulated the school. 

This ranking is a recognition of all of your hard work and dedication. To my students, your commitment to excellence and achievement impresses me every day. To my teachers and guidance counselors, your efforts to stimulate and support our students to excel inspires me,” Principal Condon said. “To our support staff, your hard work behind the scenes quietly makes everything hum at our school. To the Assistant Principals, your tireless and selfless efforts provide the structures and supports that allow everyone else to flourish.”

The ranking methodology utilized data from the 2017-2018 school year, including measures of college readiness, college curriculum breadth, math and reading proficiency and performance, underserved student performance, and graduation rate. The 2017-2018 school year was also the school year during which Principal Condon was appointed as the permanent principal of THHS.

Many members of the THHS community described the atmosphere and the people as defining factors that set Townsend Harris apart from other schools. 

UFT Chapter Leader Franco Scardino said, “These designations would not have been possible without the tireless work and dedication of our students, their parents, and THHS staff members and THHS alumni. The standards of excellence at THHS, the rich cultural mix of the THHS community, and the intellectual curiosity throughout the school will continue to propel us to new heights and prepare our students to be the leaders of the future.”

Students expressed their pride in this achievement through social media.

Freshman Angelina McCabe commented, “I think that it’s amazing to be ranked so high and to be a part of this great community.” Sophomore Lynda Irizarry agreed, “I definitely think [the ranking] is an accurate representation of the hard work Townsend students do on a daily basis. Many of our students work tirelessly and strive to put out the best work possible so I’m definitely proud that we were able to get such high positions.”

“Townsend proves that having a caring and mentally uplifting environment can coexist with academic rigor,” stated junior Ali Boivab. “Although rigorous, students are given the opportunity to be taught by faculty that are equally eager to teach as the students are to learn. Looking at other high schools, Townsend Harris and its administrators and faculty are incredibly receptive to student concerns, which allows for the creation of a milieu where students feel comfortable to learn.”

Lynda added, “Our school is healthily competitive within the student body and students want to help each other do better. They want to see their friends be happy about themselves. A majority of the students here want to support their friends and help them with whatever they need, whether those needs be academic, social, or otherwise.”

Although there was much celebration following the announcement, others expressed that this ranking does not reflect an inability to improve. Senior Arriana Wilson said, “I’m proud of Townsend for this achievement. However, I think that just because we’ve received this ranking doesn’t mean we don’t need improvements. There are a lot of social issues that occur in Townsend that have gone unnoticed since my freshman year and prior.”

Organized by Class of 2018 alumna Jayden Fuller, the #NotMyTownsend movement developed through a series of Instagram stories bringing allegations of bigotry within the THHS community to light. Current students and alumni alike responded by sharing their experiences of racism and discrimination.

In response, Principal Condon submitted these claims to the Department of Education for investigation and proposed plans aimed towards ameliorating the situation. The Classic reports further details on this developing story. 

Nevertheless, THHS’ ranking is a considerable feat. Ali concluded, “Townsend’s achievement is something that all Harrisites knew and felt all along. Through their hard work, through the great system of support provided at the school, we all know we are number one.”