The school first opened under the control of the Los Angeles Unified School District on September 11,1917 as a combination high school and elementary school to accommodate the area's rapid post-war growth brought on by its petroleum industry and iron works as well as the Pacific Electric Railway.
Its first commencement ceremony took place June 18,1918, during which three female students received their diplomas.
In 1947, Torrance Unified School District was formed but was not certified for a high school. During the school year of fall 1946 to summer 1947, THS became part of the Redondo Union High School District. The very first graduating high school class from TUSD was the Class of 1948.
Torrance High School will always be number one because it is prominently known as the most beautiful and well established high school in the state.
THS has over 100 classrooms, a library, access to site, district and county media resources, five computer labs, at least one computer per classroom, two gyms and local athletic fields.
THS offers 65,700 instructional minutes on a yearly basis and has nine minimum days for testing and/or staff development.
The Main Building with the 1921 'L' additions, the Senior Patio, original Science Building/current Home Economics Building (1921), the WPA Auditorium (1937) and the first Torrance Elementary School (1923 now referred to as the Annex) are listed on the National Register of Historic Places (1983) and was Torrance's first such listing.
THS received a major facelift and indoor modernization in the late 1970's and is the building most often seen on film. A scenic Spanish Revival Mexican tile fountain and patio,was added along with an 'L' shaped wing attached to the main building in 1921 and frequently seen in 'Beverly Hills 90210', has been known for decades as the 'Senior Patio.' The patio is traditionally off-limits to underclassmen.
The so-called Long Beach Earthquake on March 10, 1933 left its mark on the campus. The quake destroyed the upper part of the original auditorium and caused the ground near it to sink several feet. The replacement auditorium was built (1937) as a Works Progress Administration (WPA) project while the elevated administrative offices were added in 1962. The area was nicknamed the 'Sunken Garden' before the current building was built.
A memorial honoring Ted T. Tanouye, THS Class of 1938 and recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor, is directly across from THS. Tech. Sgt Tanouye was part of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, better known as the 'Go For Broke' team. This memorial was dedicated in 2004 on the 60th Anniversary of the heroic acts of Ted Tanouye during World War II.
Torrance High's unique architecture and relative proximity to Hollywood make it an ideal location for major television programs and motion pictures. Among its credits:
- In TV, Torrance High served as the facade of fictitious West Beverly High School in the Fox Network series 'Beverly Hills 90210'; as Sunnydale High School, the alma mater of Buffy Summers in the WB Network series, 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer'; and as a location for the short-lived Fox Network series 'Skin'.
- The movies saw Torrance High used as the high school setting for the Freddie Prinze, Jr. movie 'She's All That'. Torrance High also played a prominent role in 'The Wild Life', 'Not Another Teen Movie', 'Bring It On', 'Whatever It Takes', 'Cursed', 'Wild Things 3' and 'Less Than Zero'.