Adelaide High School was founded in 1908 as the result of several years of planning by the Hon. Thomas Price, Premier and Minister of Education.
During 1908 the Pupil Teacher School, the Grote Street Model School and the Advanced School for Girls amalgamated to form the Adelaide Continuation School in Grote Street under the leadership of Mr. W.J. Adey. In July the name was changed to Adelaide High School and thus began the South Australian High School System and "the first free High School in the Commonwealth". By the end of 1908, 508 students were enrolled - 263 girls and 245 boys.
The school site was very cramped - both for teaching and recreation. From the early 1930s the boys continued their education in buildings in Currie Street, building which now form part of the Remand Centre.
As the accommodation situation was still an acute problem in the late 1930s, the government called for designs for a new Boys’ High School, with the resulting building, the current Adelaide High School on West Terrace, finally being opened in 1951 as Adelaide Boys’ High School. Adelaide Girls’ High School remained on the Grote Street site.
In 1976 high schools within the metropolitan area were all zoned, and because of changes in the demography of the city, the number of students enrolled at both the Adelaide Boys’ and the Adelaide Girls’ High Schools declined significantly. The decision was made to amalgamate the two schools, and to use only the West Terrace campus. At the same time the government announced that the amalgamated Adelaide High School would be the State’s only Special Interest Language School.
By 1979 all the students of the school were housed at the West Terrace campus, the first time the whole school had been on one site since 1917. Accommodation problems, however, continued and in 1980 a new wing was added to the existing Heritage-listed buildings. A gymnasium was built and opened in 1992 by the Governor Dame Roma Mitchell, while further renovations and upgrades have occurred in recent years.
Cultural diversity is a celebrated feature of the school population with over 60% of students coming from a non English speaking background. This cultural diversity, and the International and Special Language programs, underpin the international mindedness of the school community.
Traditions play an important role in the life of Adelaide High School. Examples of these traditions include:
- Academic Excellence
- Ceremonial Assemblies
- The School Hymn and War Cry
- The Prefect System
- Exchanges with Melbourne High School and Mac.Robertson Girls' High School
- Rowing and the Head of the River Regatta
- 5 Highs' Cricket Carnival
- Old Scholars Association
- School Uniform
- Heritage Architecture