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Secondary school education officially began in Markham Village when the County Council of York passed a by-law authorizing the establishment of a grammar school. This came into being in January, 1858, with Dr. Edward T. Crowle as the first headmaster. Since there was no school building, quarters were rented in Temperance Hall, on the site now occupied by the Markham Lawn Bowling Club. During the first year, sixty-three students were registered.
In 1860, land was purchased on Joseph Street, and a new one-room brick Grammar School was built. When four rooms were added in 1892, the original building became the science laboratory. Towards the end of the century, there was a constant lack of classroom space. Alterations in 1924 provided changes in entrances, heating and corridors. In 1927, indoor washrooms were installed. The year 1952 marked the establishment of the present Markham High School District, which comprises approximately the south-east half of Markham Township. In April, 1953, the construction of the original school on Church Street began. In September, 1954, a modern, three hundred pupil Secondary School was opened.
Markham D.H.S., in 1954, was surrounded by farmland on the outskirts of Markham Village. Many residents questioned its location and failed to foresee the future growth of the district. Students from the village walked to school and rural students (living over a mile away) were bussed. There was one room each for typing, industrial arts, home economics, a gymnasium, a cafeteria, two science labs, a library, a staff room and four general classrooms.
There were 11 staff including the principal, and approximately 235 students. It was usual for a staff member to teach a student more than one subject and in successive years. This arrangement meant that staff and students knew each other well and as most staff lived in the village they knew the students families also.
The curriculum was fixed with very few choices or options. The grade 9 students took English, math, science, history, geography, French, industrial arts or home economics and physical education. The day consisted of eight 40-minute periods with a lunch period. Some subjects were taught every day, others two or three times a week. Latin and Special Commercial were choices after grade 9. Students who earned the required credits received a certificate after grade 10, grade 12 or grade 13. The number of students graduating from grade 13 was small.
In July, 1964, construction was started on a vocational addition, which would make Markham District High School a fully composite school. This addition was occupied in September, 1965. Two years later more accommodation was needed, and the latest addition was opened in January, 1970. The enrolment for 1971-1972 in this large, well equipped composite school was approximately eighteen hundred students.

In 2009, the Y.R.D.S.B. began construction on a new facility to replace the aging M.D.H.S.  Construction started on the football field east of the existing school and continued for a year.  The new building would provide more modern facilities reflecting changes to curricula and the Board's focus on energy efficiency and eco-friendly buildings.  An emphasis on information technology, with the inclusion of school-wide wireless internet and five computer labs, reflected the needs of the students and staff as members of a changing world community.

In fall 2010, the new facility was opened and demolition of the old building commenced.

Presently, MDHS holds 1,400 students with a wide diversity of needs, backgrounds and aspirations.  It has  a proven history of success in all areas, (math, science, languages, athletics, arts, business, social sciences, community leadership) and continues to have to this day.
The school community and alumni celebrated the 50th anniversary of Markham High in the spring of 2004.  
Our school motto is “Labor Omnia Vincit” - “Work Conquers All”.  
Our school colours are blue and white.  
Our school mascot is a Marauder (pirate).
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