The original school boasts many notable alumni, including Nobel Prize winners Herbert Hauptman, Julian Schwinger and Kenneth Arrow, Pulitzer Prize Winners Herman Wouk, Ira Gershwin, Richard Rogers, Lawrence Cremin and Frank Loesser and Presidential Medal of Freedom Recipients Jonas Salk and Eugene Lang. Actors Edward G. Robinson, Cornel Wilde, Clifton Webb and Mason Adams are Harris alumni as are Congressman Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. and television writer (All in the Family, the Jeffersons) Bernie West.
Townsend Harris High School was refounded in 1984 thanks largely to the efforts of alumni of the original school, who had begun the process in 1980. The first principal was Dr. Malcolm G. Largmann, a former high school English teacher with a strong belief in a classically styled education who also handpicked the school's original faculty. The high school quickly was recognized for its outstanding academic program, being selected as a National School of Excellence in 1989. The new school began life in a small building on Parsons Boulevard, originally intended as a temporary home until a permanent facility could be realized. In early 1995, the school moved into a new building located on the campus of Queens College, where it currently continues to be located.
In 2001, Dr. Largmann retired as principal and was succeeded by Thomas Cunningham, who served as principal until his retirement in 2008. Kenneth J. Bonamo was appointed the third principal of the reestablished school in 2008 and remained until June 2012. In August 2012, Anthony Barbetta, the former principal of Thomas Edison High School, was appointed as the reestablished school's fourth principal.
Already, the re-established school boosts several prominent alumni, including New York Times correspondent David M. Herszenhorn, entrepreneur Divya Narendra, current Queens State Assemblywoman Nily Rozic and former Queens poet laureate Ishle Yi Park.
Pictured above right: (L-R) Former Principals Thomas Cunningham, Malcolm G. Largmann and Kenneth J. Bonamo in 2010.