Adelaide High School

Coordinates: 34°55′33″S 138°35′12″E / 34.92577°S 138.58661°E / -34.92577; 138.58661

Adelaide High School
Adelaide High School COA.svg
West Terrace

, ,

MottoNon scholae sed vitae
(Not only for school, but for life)
Established1908; 114 years ago (1908)
PrincipalCezanne Green
AffiliationSports Association for Adelaide Schools
Adelaide High School, viewed from near the corner of West Terrace and Glover Avenue

Adelaide High School is a coeducational state high school situated on the corner of West Terrace and Glover Avenue in the Adelaide Parklands. It was the first government high school in South Australia. It currently has an enrolment of approximately 1,500 students.


In 1879, John Anderson Hartley, Catherine Helen Spence and others created the Advanced School for Girls in Grote Street, Adelaide. It was the first public secondary school in South Australia. The school was combined with the Adelaide Continuation School, and on 8 April 1908 the name was changed to Adelaide High School. This was the same year the South Australian state high school system was launched. Adelaide High School was officially opened on 24 September 1908 by the premier of South Australia, Thomas Price. It was the first secondary school in the Commonwealth of Australia.

In 1927, it had an enrolment of 1,067 students, making it the largest school of its kind in the Commonwealth. By 1929, due to increasing enrolments, the school occupied two sites; one site was at Grote Street and the other was at Currie Street (now part of the Remand Centre). Due to the increasing enrolments, it was decided that a new building was required for Adelaide High School. The current site of the school on West Terrace was originally set aside for an army barracks in 1849, but in 1859 an observatory was built instead, which then became the Bureau of Meteorology in 1939.

Based on an award-winning 1940 design, a new building was erected on the site from 1947 to 1951. This became Adelaide Boys High School while Adelaide Girls High School remained in the buildings in Grote Street. An application was made to have the building listed as a Historic Building on the Australian Register of the National Estate. The nomination was on the basis of the building's "Art Modern" style and significance in Adelaide education. It had not led to the building's listing on the register as of 2007. The original Grote Street school buildings were listed on the register as a Historic site in 1980. As of 2007, the buildings were used as a centre for the performing arts. The buildings were considered to be among the Nationally Significant 20th-Century Buildings in South Australia.

In 2008, Adelaide High School, Celebrate its Centenary 100th Birthday.

In 1977, due to decreasing enrolments at both the Boys and the Girls schools, amalgamation began with Adelaide High School operating on two campuses – one on Grote Street and one on West Terrace. This arrangement ended in 1979, when all students were on the West Terrace site. In 1979, Adelaide High School became South Australia's Special Interest Language School, with students able to study up to seven languages: French, German, Latin, Modern Greek, Chinese, Spanish and Italian. Latin ceased to be offered in 2004 and was replaced by Japanese. Auslan was added as the eighth language in 2018.

Adelaide is part of the longest-running sporting exchanges with Melbourne High School and Mac.Robertson Girls' High School, both in Melbourne.


Adelaide High School is especially known for being a Special Interest Language School. It offers its students eight different languages to study: Modern Greek, Mandarin Chinese, Japanese, Italian, French, Spanish, German and Auslan. The school is also a Centre for the Hearing Impaired and an Associate School for Students of High Intellectual Potential. It has a selected entry process in its special interest cricket and rowing programs.


Adelaide High School is a Special Interest Language School and currently a sister school to Asahi High School in Osaka, Japan; IIS Quintino Sella in Biella, Italy, Heriburg Gymnasium in Coesfeld, Nord Rhein Westfalen, Germany, Lycée Saint Sauveur in Redon, Brittany, France, IES La Sisla in Sonsecas, Spain, Jinan Foreign Language School in Jinan, China, and the 7th High School of Corfu, Greece. Sister school visits, both inbound and outbound, take place regularly.


Facilities that students have access to include a Library, gymnasium, weights room, tennis, basketball and netball courts, cricket nets and 4 ovals, Performing Arts Centre, science labs and lecture theatres. The school also has a boatshed on the bank of the River Torrens which holds the school's many rowing boats and where the school's rowing crews train. It also has a shared rowing facility at West Lakes with Unley High School and Norwood Morialta High School. A new wing, the Charles Todd Wing, was added to the southern side of the school in 2014. Building 4, previously housing the Languages, Art and Library areas, was upgraded and now contains the Languages, Maths and Arts learning areas.


The school has four "houses" which students represent in sporting and other events within the school. The houses took their names from past principals of the school. The house names are: Adey (Red), Macghey (Blue), Morriss (Green), and West (Yellow). Sporting events include the intra-House Swimming Carnival and Athletics Carnival. The houses compete for the SJ Dowdy Cup, named after former Principal Stephen Dowdy. West won the cup in 2011 but Adey have won it from 2012 – 2017.

Adelaide High School has a range of girls' and boys' sporting teams and offers special interest sporting programs including cricket and rowing. They participate in games and regattas throughout the year which lead up to the main events. The 5 Highs Cricket Carnival is held in December against Melbourne High School, Sydney Boys' High School, Brisbane State High School and Kent Street Senior High School (Perth). The major rowing event is the Head of the River Regatta held in March or April. This regatta was jointly founded in 1922 by Adelaide High School and St Peter's College. Other sporting trips have the volleyball teams travelling to the Australian Volleyball Schools Cup in Melbourne, in December.

Since 1913, Adelaide High has taken part in a sporting exchange with Mac.Robertson Girls' High School and since 1910, Melbourne High School. This is the longest-running sporting exchange in the state. Both Exchanges compete for the Prefects' Cup. The exchanges are held in early Term 3 and each year the venue swaps: when the boys go to Melbourne the girls go to Adelaide and vice versa. There are competitions in many sports such as: Australian rules football, soccer, tennis, rowing, basketball, netball, softball, chess, debating, theatre sports, volleyball, cross country /athletics, badminton, table tennis and hockey. Sports previously played against Melbourne included lacrosse, baseball and field hockey. Adelaide High School currently holds the Melbourne Exchange Prefects' Cup after their most recent controversial win in 2017.

Adelaide High School is a member of the Sports Association for Adelaide Schools (SAAS).

Head Master / Principal

Name Years Ref(s)
William Adey 1908–1920
Reginald A. West 1920–1948
Cyril M. Ward 1948
Alfred E. Dinning 1949–1954
Wybert M. C. Symonds 1954–1962
A. H. Campbell 1963–1968
W. J. Bentley 1969–1977
Colin H. Brideson OAM 1978–1987
Peter Sanderson 1988–1997
Stephen Dowdy 1998–T1 2011
Anita Zocchi T2 2011–T1 2017
Michael Gurr T2 2017
Cézanne Green T3 2017–

Notable staff and students

  • Sir Don Anderson (1917–1975) – Director-General of the Department of Civil Aviation
  • Lynn Arnold (b. 1949) – South Australian Premier[citation needed]
  • Nick Bolkus (b. 1950) – South Australian Senator and Cabinet Minister
  • Shaun Burgoyne (b. 1982) – AFL footballer[citation needed]
  • Ralph Clarke (b. 1951) – South Australian Deputy Opposition Leader[citation needed]
  • Hugh Cairns (1896–1952) – First Nuffield Professor of Surgery, Oxford University
  • John Stuart Dowie (1915–2008) – Artist
  • Sia (b. 1975) – Pop singer and songwriter
  • Anne Haddy (1930–1999) – Actress (best known for her role as Helen Daniels in Neighbours)
  • Barbara Hall (b. circa 1931) – Physicist
  • Bob Hank (1923–2012) – Dual Magarey Medallist
  • Margaret Hubbard (b. 1924) – First woman to win the Hentford Scholarship for Latin at Oxford
  • Tom Koutsantonis (b. 1971) – South Australian Treasurer
  • Simon Lewicki aka Groove Terminator – Electronic music artist[citation needed]
  • Brian Ross Martin (b. 1947) – Chief Justice of the Northern Territory
  • Susie May McGillicuddy MBE, née Halbert (1887–?) – Matron of Church of England Boys' Home, Walkerville
  • Christopher Nasiłowski (1951–2017) – Martial artist and academic
  • Sir Mark Oliphant (1901–2000) – South Australian Governor
  • Neil Page (b. 1944) – Australian baseball representative/player[citation needed]
  • Dr. (Hannah) June Pash (b. 1923) – Medical Superintendent of Queen Victoria Memorial Hospital, Melbourne
  • Greig Pickhaver – aka H.G. Nelson, actor, comedian and writer[citation needed]
  • Chris Sumner (b. 1943) – South Australian Attorney-General[citation needed]
  • David Vigor (1939–1998) – South Australian Senator[citation needed]
  • Lou Vincent (b. 1978) – New Zealand Test cricketer[citation needed]
  • Brennan Cox (b. 1998) – AFL footballer[citation needed]
  • Oswald Rishbeth (1886-1946) - Geographer, taught at Adelaide High in 1910

Further reading

  • Adelaide High School Council (1983). Adelaide High School: 75th anniversary, 1908–1983 souvenir book. ISBN 0-9593880-2-8. OCLC 220259206

This page was last updated at 2022-06-17 18:49 UTC. Update now. View original page.

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