St. James High School start building construction began in 1960, and in June 1961 the New Senior School was opened. One hundred and fifty boys and ninety nine girls were admitted by the then Principal-Mr Bingham Parkin. There were nine other members of staff and the Chairman of the School Board was Archdeacon Price.
In 1962, evening classes began in both the Senior School and the Technical Institute. Vocational as well as academic subjects were taught and these gave students the opportunity to gain further training and employment in Canada and England.
In August, a new set of pupils was admitted and additional staff appointed. This unfortunately created problems because the institution had to accommodate over 900 students in the space provided for 700. The age range was from eleven-and a-half to fifteen years. The programme provided social and intellectual development which enabled the students to acquire the habits, skills and knowledge, which they needed for living a full and useful life.
In September 1972, the shift system was introduced in Jamaica and Montego Bay Junior Secondary was one of the three pioneer schools. In fact, it was the first school in Western Jamaica which implemented the shift system.
The shift system had several aims, but two of the chief aims were:
to provide accommodation for more students
to avoid overcrowding and at the same time enable each teacher to have an average of 35 students in a class.
The year 1974 was a very significant one for the school, as not only did it become a secondary school, but simultaneously the grades 10 and 11 programme was introduced to train and equip students for the world of work and for further training. The programme provided for pre-vocational and vocational education.
In 1998, the school was renamed Montego Bay Comprehensive High and in 2000 its status was upgraded to high school and renamed St. James High.