Field of Stones: The George Westinghouse High School Story

1963.  The year of insurmountable events.  Four innocent, young black girls were tragically taken from this earth when the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church was bombed in Birmingham, Alabama.  The Vietnam War is in its 8th year of conflict.  Civil rights activist Medgar Evers was shot and killed outside of his home in Jackson, Mississippi.  A civil rights rally, with over 200,000 blacks and whites marching, was held in Washington, DC with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivering his I Have a Dreamspeech. The 35th president of the United States, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, succumbed to an assassin’s bullet while motorcading through the streets of Dallas, Texas.

 1963.  Field of Stones is a tragic and triumphant portrayal of the lives of brave and resilient young men and women who graced the halls of Westinghouse House School during an era of civil unrest and during one of the country’s prevalent and eventful years in American history.  These events serve as a backdrop that would forever change their mindsets and course of direction in a country riddled by Jim Crowism, segregation and discrimination.  These students, however, did not realize at this time, that their high-school years would become defining, soul-searching revelations. Their trajectory and sheer will would help determine and frame their character and purpose — one step, one stride, one tackle, one obstacle, one tragedy and one championship — at a time.

 The Westinghouse High School football team, the Bulldogs, was a southwestern Pennsylvania elite phenomenon and gridiron cornerstone and attraction under the leadership of Coach Pete Dimperio.  Coach Dimperio was the driving force behind the team.  On November 9, captain and fullback Billy Vassar’s stellar performance, on that rainy Saturday afternoon, led the Bulldogs to victory and another City League championship.  But Billy’s victory celebration was tragically and fatally wounded at the hands of four intoxicated assailants who pierced his body with their knives’ sharpness as the sea of blood cascaded on the concrete floor under Billy’s strong, limp body.  Whispers, screams, rumors, cries, confusion and shock rapidly echoed and reverberated throughout the streets of Homewood and the neighborhoods of the City of Pittsburgh, with the resonating message that the pride and jewel of Westinghouse Football became the victim of a senseless, worthless and cowardly act of nothingness.

 Billy’s life and death became the tipping point that the athletes and student body embraced to recognize a brighter tomorrow even though the next few years presented many challenges for them, on and off the field of play, performance and academics.  Or perhaps the tipping point did not evolve from that fateful event but was always within the walls of Westinghouse High School and Billy’s death triggered the hidden momentum and silent dignity to catapult their places in the heart of America.  Westinghouse High School personified the character of families, community, the student body, teachers and more importantly, the football team.

 From a field of stones to a field of grass to a field of flowers to a field of trees to a forest, the cornerstone of Westinghouse High School catapulted the school’s reputation and supremacy in athletic dominance and academic excellence in 1963 and today, 55 years later.  Field of Stones is only one story within a litany of experiences that the students, yesterday, today and tomorrow, will share.  Field of Stones preserves the fabric of a small community called Homewood and the Westinghouse High School Bulldogs and its rise to fame and glory and everlasting legacy.

Director: Demetrius Wren

Demetrius Wren was born in Phoenix, AZ and grew up in Augusta, GA. He made his first film at age 8 and started studying filmmaking while in high school. He graduated from Florida State University’s film school as the recipient of the Pathfinder’s Scholarship and started working immediately as a director on his award winning film, Streetball, about a group of homeless soccer players in South Africa.

Wren went on to direct the indie feature, Saudade? as well as the first season of live interstitials on the hit children’s show, Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood.

His first film as writer/director, Moon and Sun follows the story of a young psychic in Astoria who is on the hunt for her mother’s killer.

He co-owns the production company Two Kids with a Camera along with his wife, actress Christina Wren. Together they make indie films, commercials and web content for major commercial clients and networks.

Orin Richburg - Fastest person in Pennsylvania from 1961-1965

Coach Pete Dimperio talks to a referee

Westinghouse Bulldogs 1963 Varsity Club

1966 Westinghouse Drama Club

1963 City Champion Westinhouse Bulldogs

Coach Pete Dimperio Prepares His Players for the Championship Game

Coach Pete Dimperio Inspires His Players

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