SBHS was founded in 1881 and, in 1926, the original brick building was opened on the present Herbert St site. This building is called the Pearce Block in memory of Mr T. Pearce who was rector from around 1904 to 1929. Subsequent buildings were named after George Uttley, Malcolm Leadbetter, Don Grant and Laurie Cornwell. The gymnasium was named after Jim Page.

Well-known former students include Jeremy Waldron, who attended the school until 1970 and is now a prominent legal and political philosopher in the United States, and Andrew White, who played rugby for the All Blacks in the 1920s. Back in the early 1980s there were several rows of framed photos in the downstairs corridor of the Grant Block of Old Boys who had gone on to represent New Zealand at rugby or cricket. The Leadbetter Wing also had framed photos of the First 15 rugby team dating back to around 1913.

Other notable All Blacks are 100 test veteran Malili (Mils) Muliaina, former captain Paul Henderson, props Jamie Mackintosh, and Clarke Dermody.

The school also has a proud tradition in providing New Zealand schoolboys Rugby representatives.

Recent names include Robbie Robinson (rugby player), John Hardie and Scott Eade.

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