The school opened in 1952 as Tri-City High School to serve the then-separate communities of Leaksville, Spray, and Draper. The school gained its current name in 1958 in honor of John Motley Morehead, the governor of North Carolina from 1841 to 1845. Four building projects added on to the high school: a classroom and auditorium building in 1960, a library in 1968, a gymnasium in 1981, and the cafeteria and science building in 1991. The school won back to back boy's basketball state titles in 1991 and 1992 behind legendary coach John Harder.
As of January 2009, 62% of students are White, 27% of students are African American, and 11% of students are of other ethnicities.