The first secondary school in Kemi was founded in 1897, an era when Finland was part of the Tsar ruled Russia, and the declaration of independence was still to come 20 years ahead. That was also the time when fennophiles strongly and widely promoted Finnish culture e.g. by means of education. Thanks to this, the language used at schools was not any more only Swedish but also Finnish. In 1901 the school in Kemi became a senior secondary school, and the first baccalaureates were graduated three years later in 1904.

With the increasing number of pupils there was an urgent need for a new school building. Finally in 1925 the process started, and in 1930 the present school building was inaugurated. During the Second World War in 1940 a Karelian senior secondary school for girls was relocated from the war areas to Kemi. Since that year until 1972 senior secondary education was provided for boys and girls in separate school buildings.

In 1972 there was a big renovation of the educational system in Finland, and as a result, all senior secondary education in Kemi was united to one school.

The name of the school had changed many times during the years. When the school celebrated its 100 years of existence in 1997 the name was changed from Kemin Lukio into Kemin Lyseon Lukio, which reminds of the historical tradition of the lyceum being the school that leads to universities.