The school's motto ‘Scientia est Potestas’ (Knowledge is Power) was devised during the time of the establishment of the house system and during World War II.
The school developed from the School of Arts in Ann Street, and later from the old Normal School. Around 1913 the school became a co-educational school. Headmasters of various metropolitan state schools were asked to nominate 76 boys and girls for admission to the new school, and a further 70 paying students made up the first year's enrolment. Brisbane State High School first met in the Technical College buildings, in Ann Street. In 1914 the School moved to lower George Street. In 1921 another move was made to Normal School buildings on the corner of Adelaide and Edward Streets. During this time the School was being administered by the Central Technical College and combined with the Junior High School which had been operating as a secondary department. The School was relocated to the Musgrave Park site in 1925, and become independent of the Technical College system. Isaac Waddle, was Brisbane State High School's first Principal, and served for 24 years (1920–1945). Herbert G. Watkin was another influential Principal (1947–1951).
Hawkins, T. Max. The Queensland Great Public Schools – A History. Jacaranda Press; 1965.
Brisbane State High School, circa 1940s - Image ID: KFA9P4. Alamy Purchase.