Documentary film honors 100 years of education, pioneer building

WASHINGTON COUNTY — Iron Spyke Pictures has signed a promotion and distribution agreement with Washington County School District for the new documentary film, “On Dreams of Dixie,” honoring 100 years of public education in Southern Utah.

About the film

“On Dreams of Dixie” commemorates the anniversary of the establishment of the Washington County School District in 1915 and offers a heartfelt look at the history of the people and events of a district established by dedicated pioneers.

“From a once barren desert to a flourishing, vibrant community, Southern Utah demonstrates the value that comes from keeping education a top community priority,” Washington County School District Foundation Director Pam Graf said. “We invite you to help us continue the legacy of education in Southern Utah by purchasing your personal copies of this film. You may also offer a donation to the Washington County School District Foundation, which is dedicated to helping our students and teachers.”

Through personal interviews representing nearly a century of voices and from records found in the archives of local history, “On Dreams of Dixie” provides a character-driven look at what it was like attending school in Southern Utah’s early settlement communities.

"On Dreams of Dixie" movie poster | Image courtesy of Brian Tenney, St. George News
“On Dreams of Dixie” movie poster | Image courtesy of Brian Tenney, St. George News | Click on image to enlarge

Committed to education, school classes were first held in the back of covered wagons and in the area’s first church houses.

In 1915, the state issued an order for the area’s scattered schools to join together as one and Washington County School District was formed with 1,833 registered students.

The film also portrays the evolution of Southern Utah schools through the invention of technology and modern day.

More than 28,000 students are now enrolled in Washington County schools with students learning skills that prepare them for life. Looking back over the shoulder of history, it is important to acknowledge that life in Southern Utah started out at a much slower pace, when times were simple.



On Aug. 1, the film’s world premiere will take place at a private screening at Desert Hills High School, 828 E. Desert Hills Drive, St. George, followed by a public screening at 8:45 p.m.

Theater seating is limited to 900 occupants. If the first showing is sold out a second public screening will be held immediately after.

“We are committed to helping viewers understand that education is vitally important,” said Bob Sonju, executive director of K-12 student learning for Washington County School District. “As demonstrated in this heartfelt film, education weaves lives together, prepares us for life and demonstrates that through school, work and play, communities grow and prosper.”

To purchase DVD copies of “On Dreams of Dixie,” available after Aug. 1, go online and click on the green Support WCSD Foundation button. A single copy of the documentary is $20, and all proceeds benefit Washington County School District Foundation. DVDs will also be available for purchase at the premier and during the DOCUTAH festival.

Reception of the film

“On Dreams of Dixie” has also been accepted into the 2015 DOCUTAH International Film Festival and will be screened as an evening feature film during the festival week, Sept. 8-12. The film is 27 minutes in length and is included in the festival’s documentary short category.

Interact with the film

“We realize that while this film features a handful of personal stories, there are many not told here,” Sonju said. “We all remember a favorite teacher or experience and we would love to hear yours.”

To provide a personal remembrance of your days in the Washington County School District visit the stories page and post online.  You can also share them on social media using the hashtags #WCSD100 and #dixiedreamsmovie.

Film creation

“On Dreams of Dixie” provides a powerful viewer experience characteristic of the filmmaking duo of writer and director Melynda Thorpe and Keith R. Owen, who wrote the original score.

The film is narrated by Wilford Brimley and features interviews with Paul Anderson, Larry Bergeson, Meg Frampton, Dia Frampton, Pam Graf, Lyman Hafen, Ken Hinton, Jeffery R. Holland, Alan Myron Jones, Heber Jones, Randy Judd, Edna Mae Miller Sampson, Kris Sewell, Madi Sonju and Macey Sonju.

Sue Blazzard served as the school district’s historical consultant. Cody Plumhof, web, design and media specialist for the district served as executive producer for the film.

“Working on this film has been a great opportunity to tell the history of WCSD through the eyes of those who lived it,” Plumhof said. “Each story in the film is only a glimpse of the past 100 years, and there is so much more that could be said if time permitted. We are truly thankful for those who dedicate their lives to educating the children of Washington County – from the support staff to the teachers and administrators – and I believe they truly help our students work towards their dreams and futures.”

Iron Spyke Pictures will represent the film as it enters the festival circuit and manage online and other distribution methods of delivery. Iron Spyke Pictures is a Southern Utah-based company dedicated to supporting independent filmmakers, cinematographers and performance artists through representation, promotion and distribution of documentary films.

Combining rich experience, talent and passion for storytelling, Thorpe and Owen have also produced “Heart of the Andes” about a remote tribe living high in the Andes Mountains and a film about southern Nevada’s new Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument.


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