The Giles Era

Photo of H Leslie Giles, courtesy of Virginia Tech Special Collections

Henry Leslie Giles, born September 14, 1900, originally from Morristown, New Jersey, was the successor of Mr. Abraham Walker in 1942. Giles was the fifth principal of Christiansburg Institute Under his leadership, the curriculum remained the same, but a school band and orchestra were created. Giles reinvigorated student life at Christiansburg institute by creating more extracurricular activities for students. Athletics like football, softball, and basketball became a core part of student life and pride for the Institute as they won State, National, and District trophies.

Student life activities under Giles’ tenure as principal ranged from sports to other social functions. The choir and band became “renown” under director Zeddie Holmes. Forensics, speaking, and drama because a part of campus life, and students went to Virginia State College to compete in drama competitions for statewide recognition and awards, coordinated by Viola Charlton. He was instrumental in creating and publishing The Reflector, Christiansburg Institute’s first yearbook, which was dedicated to him.

H Leslie Giles Draft Card. Courtesy of

Snippets from the History of Christiansburg Institute. Click to read different stories of student life during Giles' tenure. Courtesy of Virginia Tech Special Collections.

Giles also created philanthropic programs for students. 'Self help" programs were created laundry, dining room on the farm, and other areas to off set student expenses. The cosmetology club fund raised and presented a scholarship of $150 to James DeHart to attend St. Paul’s College in Lawrenceville, Virginia.

Giles ultimately resigned from the school due to a dispute over the use of the farm and a white record keeper who worked for the school board. According to the history of Christiansburg institute, this dispute weakened the educational status of the institute and it’s relationship with the school bard, playing a significant role in the closing of the school in 1966.

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Christiansburg Institute 1866 to 1966 logo with tiger, alumni pride