1946-1963
Under Slayton, further progress was made. The first cafeteria was opened in the high school building in a room that had been occupied by a Pre-Flight class during World War II. Fixtures for the cafeteria were furnished by the War Assets Administration, which distributed war surplus materials, and the shop students and vocational agriculture students did a great deal of the work. Students from Central Ward were brought to the high school at noon.

In addition to the four rural bus routes that brought pupils from the South Sulphur, Branom, Jardin and Fairlie communities, a city bus route was provided and 325 bus riders were noted.

Consolidation of small rural common school districts occurred during this time and these included Pecan, Prairie View, Willow Oak, Lebanon, Century, Charity, Fairview, Riley Grove, Columbia and Fairlie. However, Fairlie kept its grade school for several years more.

Central Ward now had 14 teachers and 350 students. In 1947, five new classrooms and a 22 x 40 library addition were authorized.

The physical plant in Commerce Independent School District was to be further taxed when the university's Training School was closed in the summer of 1948 and the 200 students returned to the city school system. The growing university needed the space occupied by these students. Since 125 of the transfers were at the grade school level, the decision was made to reopen West Ward. In October 1948, the total school enrollment was 890.

Another significant event of 1948 was the separation of the public schools from city control to enable annexation for the purpose of consolidation of school districts, thus making possible the expansion of the CISD to encompass 60 square miles.

When Slayton resigned to accept a position as superintendent of the larger school system at Alice, Avery R. Downing, Commerce High School principal, was named to succeed him in July 1949. Downing's successor as high school principal was W. B. Drummond.

When the refurbished West Ward school was reopened in 1950, the name was changed to W. J. Wheeler Elementary as a tribute to the physician who had given the land for West Ward. This expansion provided six classrooms, a gymnasium, an office and clinic space.

The 1950 graduating class was the smallest since 1933, with only 50 graduates. However, in 1951 the senior class had 72 students. The first mention of Special Education was in 1949, when a class was provided at A. L. Day. However, in 1945 a 30-minute class in remedial speech and speech correction was provided.

The first annual, The Sregit, (Tigers spelled backward) was issued in 1950 and sold for $3.

In the fall of 1950, Norris Tanton joined the faculty of A.L. Day as director of boys' play and social studies teacher. He had returned home after seven years and 11 months in the U.S. Navy.

Downing resigned after two years to become superintendent of Waco public schools and Drummond was elevated to superintendent in 1951. That fall, a course in Bible, authorized by Texas Education Agency, was added as an elective, and a strings program was added to the music curriculum. A new piano for the auditorium , purchased at a cost of approximately $500, was made possible by Parent-Teacher projects and by donations. Tennis had become a major sport and new tennis courts were built on Park Street. In the fall of 1952, 448 students were enrolled in grades 7 through 12 in the high school building. 

At the death of Jackson Massey , principal of A. L. Day since 1930, Tanton was elevated to principal. His interest in the physical plant became evident through the improvements he initiated at the school. A fund provided by magazine sales and candy, cookie and fruit concession paid for electric water fountains, a 16mm sound projector, and additions to the film library. He also encouraged the students to take pride in the school campus and they set out grass and shrubbery. In 1953, a new heating system was installed.

Television reception became possible in Commerce through the installation of tall antennas, and many homes began buying sets.

The segregated Norris school was in a dilapidated condition. While a new building, which was completed in 1954, was under construction, the Norris pupils attended St. Paul School in Neylandville . The all black school had a 46-member choir that was in demand to sing at many occasions.

Drummond and high school principal J. R. Nelson completed their three-year contracts, and both were replaced in the summer of 1954. Leonard Prewitt was the new superintendent.

A Homemaking Cottage, which had been authorized during Drummond's term, was completed in January 1955 on the northeast corner of the high school campus.

The PTA provided a refrigerated water fountain for the second floor of the high school, and typhoid shots were administered by the Hunt County Health Nurse. A special entrance was provided at A. L. Day for those special education students who were required to use wheel chairs. Three new rooms were added to Wheeler school to accommodate two additional grades; and a 15-space parking area was installed on the north side of the high school campus.
The refurbished West Ward School was reopened in 1950 and the name was changed to W. J. Wheeler Elementary School as a tribute to the physician who had given the land for West Ward.
Built in 1953, the Norris School served the African American community first as a high school. It became a part of CISD in 1960 and was integrated in 1965. The fifth grade was housed at Norris after that time.



In April 1955, Salk polio vaccine was administered to all students. Roy Rogers and Dale Evans came to Wheeler school to award first prize in a national safety contest, which included $500 in cash, a plaque, and visual aid equipment valued at $1000.

A fire attributed to electrical wiring was quickly extinguished at the high school, and new wiring was installed. A movie projector and filmstrip projector were added at the high school. A new bus was purchased for the South Sulphur route. A teachers' lounge was added at A. L. Day, and the first mention of a school nurse was in 1956.

Trigonometry, physics, Spanish and speech were course additions at the high school.

Other improvements authorized during Prewitt's tenure were a replacement for the 1939-vintage frame bus barn and band "shack," and further additions to A.L. Day. The first National Honor Society was approved for Commerce High School.

Prewitt resigned effective Oc. 31, 1958 to become assistant director of the Teacher Retirement System of Texas. (He was later named director, a post he held at the time of his death in 1980.)

Marvin Kirkman, who had been elected high school principal in 1956, was named to succeed Prewitt. Commerce High School had its first student to be named a National Merit Scholar in 1959.

In the fall of 1959, six classrooms, a visual aids room, a library and a central kitchen for the school system were completed at A. L. Day. Improvements also included a covered ramp for the convenience of students who rode the buses.

Reflecting another change in society, the school board issued its first policies concerning married students, classifying them as "Special Students" with academic privileges only. There wre not allowed to attend social functions; and any student who became pregnant was required to leave school immediately.

The school board decreed that four years of English were mandatory, and journalism could no longer be substituted for senior English. The beginnings of a guidance program in 1959 was funded through the National Defense Education Act, and consisted of guidance by teachers during Home Room period. Each teacher was assigned 18 advisees.

U.S. Sen. Lyndon Johnson spoke at both CHS and Wheeler schools that year.

The 1959 Senior Class reversed a long-standing custom. Instead of climbing the city's water tower to add their name to those of other classes, the class raised the money to buy paint to refurbish the tower and presented a check to the mayor, Dr. L.H. Leberman.

In 1960, the school day was rearranged to include seven periods.

Kirkman resigned to accept another position in the summer of 1963.


Our Mission

In partnership with families and community, CISD will provide all students an exemplary education, preparing them to be successful, productive citizens. 

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