High School of Commerce, Class of 1935 — January & June

Our Master-Builder
Out Pilot-Captain
Who Planned with vision,
Directed with wisdom,
is gone.

Carlos Bent Ellis
The First Captain

The friend of Commerce,
We mourn his passing,
But joy that his spirit
Is still inspiring,
Lives on.

"For Life is the mirror of king and slave;
  It is just what we are and do;
So give to the world the best you have,
  And the best will come back to you."

    In 1930, Mr. Carlos B. Ellis closed his farewell to the pupils at the High School of Commerce with these lines by Ella Wilcox. He had reached the age of retirement, and his good-bye to this school was the good-bye of a father to a child he himself had reared from infancy to a maturity of strength and usefulness far greater than even he had dreamed. Now that Mr. Ellis is gone, we realize more fully than when he was our principal just how good was the "best" which he gave to the world, and how surely the best came back not only to him, but to the school which was his greatest pride.
    High school generations come and go very quickly. No student of our present Commerce remembers Mr. Ellis as principal. He looks down at us from a painting; we hear him spoken of in the classroom or assembly; but it is natural to accept the present as our heritage without too much thought about the ideals and struggles of those whose efforts have made our advantages possible.
    It was in 1898 that Mr. Ellis, then a successful Westfield teacher, was made had of the Commercial Department of Central High School. Thirty-seven pupils were enrolled in his courses. Within twelve years the number had grown to 410. Because of his faith in the soundness of the value of commercial education, he refused the principalship of Central in 1910 and was supported in his judgement by being appointed to the head of a newly organized High School of Commerce. By 1915, there were not sufficient accommodations in either of the two existing high schools for his students, now 872 strong, and the million-dollar structure that is our present home was built in 1915.
    All this was not accomplished without the usual cried of critics that money was being wasted and that a school planned for 1500 pupils could never be filled. However, by 1930 more than 1700 were enrolled, and close to 2200 now throng our corridors.
    Seldom has a man been so closely identified with his school as was Mr. Ellis. His faculty was personally chosen by him to fill positions in a curriculum which he himself had been chief in planing, and in a building into every nook and corner of which his thoughtfulness had penetrated. He was an elder brother to all his teachers, an understanding and kindly father to all his boys and girls.
    Whatever title this school may be known by in years to come, it will bear the name of the Carols B. Ellis High School in the hearts of those associated with its founder.
    For most men, the building of a new and important unit in an outstanding educational system, and forever endearing himself to those who came in contact with him as an educator would have constituted a full life. But not so with Mr. Ellis. He was instrumental in forming the Evening High School, and was its principal for several years. He was most successful also in his leadership of the Summer School. At one time or another, he presided of the destinies of five educational organizations. He wrote commercial texts. He was decorated by the French government for his work with exchange students here during the World War.
    Moreover, he did not confine himself to school interests. He took what the Sunday Union-Republican has called an active interest in civic and philanthropic causes, "perhaps more than any other schoolman in the city's history." A simple listing of his activities "outside of school" would be too long to include here. Beautiful Trinity Church is a monument to his efficiency as chairman of its building committee; the Rotary Club, Junior Achievement Foundation, Chamber of Commerce, Community Welfare, and many other organizations have felt the influence of his busy and always idealistic mind. At the age of seventy, he was made standard-bearer of the Republican Party in an unsuccessful campaign for the mayoralty during a "Democratic year."
    In the midst of all his busy life, Mr. Ellis was never too occupied to have time for those long and personal chats with students and graduated, which have had untold influence in shaping the characters of many of our citizens. His journalistic biographer places first among his qualities that or forming lasting friendships.
    Such, in part, was the man whom death took from us this spring. From his early boyhood, when his barefoot trail led schoolward from the little farm, to the funeral services in Trinity, when crowds of his friends and admirers came to honor his memory, his whole life is an inspiration to the ones he loved most of all -- the American school children.

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