CHRISTIANSBURG, Va. (WDBJ7) The New River Valley is celebrating Southwest Virginia's first high school for African Americans this weekend.
Although the school closed 50 years ago, after other schools began desegregating, many alumni and their families remember the significance this school played in their lives.
2016 marks the 150th Anniversary of the school and many people were coming back to celebrate what the school stood for.
After opening in 1866, the school transitioned into an industrial model of education for students. Alumni of the school remember students would travel from all around the area, even from other states, just to get the education the institute offered.
Rita Irvin, the 2nd Vice President of the Christiansburg Institute Alumni Association, explained, "The people there were very eager to learn and had a desire to make a difference and while they were studying, they were doing a dual role so they had academic courses, the basics, but then they also were learning a trade so that they would always have two methods of being able to sustain themselves."
Groups are still working to revitalize the Institute and make it a place people can come and visit.
The celebration kicked off at 7:00 Friday night at the Inn at Virginia Tech and continues with events through Sunday.
Click the link attached to the article to the Facebook event to learn more about the weekend of celebration.