The envelope, please: The Emmy goes to...Fort Mill High!

jmarks@fortmilltimes.comMay 13, 2013 

— And the winner is...Fort Mill High School.

More specifically, the team of Sawyer Bengtson, Mark Caponigro, Ryan Long and Mason Strohl, who found out this past weekend that a television class project from last school year won them an Emmy Award.

It’s the first Emmy for Fort Mill High School, and the first time being nominated.

“I just didn’t think it was possible,” said Karin McKemey, who teaches TV production at the school.

In addition to the better-known Prime Time Emmy Awards and Daytime Emmy Awards, there are 19 regional chapters of the Los Angeles-based National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences promoting more localized content. Those chapters have their own set of awards just for high school students.

The Fort Mill students won one of 10 Emmys awarded by the Southeast chapter, which includes almost all of South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi, and Asheville, N.C. Their public service category led all others with seven nominees.

The public service announcement, “Really?”, took less than a week and was an extra credit assignment toward the end of the term. McKemey teaches four levels of TV production. The winning entry came from her entry-level class.

“They wanted to promote students checking their facts before spreading information,” McKemey said.

The idea behind the announcement was a person being bullied, with sticky notes littering the character with unkind words from others. It was filmed in a day. A couple more for editing, then the students spent a considerable amount of their effort on motion technology.

“Our big idea was, ‘some stories shouldn’t stick,’” Long said.

The iconic trophy hasn’t arrived yet, but it’s coming. It’ll be awarded to and displayed by the school. Which didn’t stop students Monday from imagining how they might spend a day or an hour with it given the chance – engraving, prom proposal prop, taking “like a million pictures.”

“I at least want to get to touch it,” Strohl said.

Long and Caponigro are seniors, Bengtson and Strohl juniors. All are accomplished in school apart from public service announcements, from drum majoring the band to playing on a state championship soccer team and anchoring the school’s weekly news program, “The Buzz” TV Show.

Long is headed toward a computer science major at High Point University. Strohl is headed to Washington, D.C., this summer on a journalism scholarship given only to one student per state.

For students staying another year, they’ll put their cinematography and editing schools to use on another project – likely the first ever Emmy award winner-produced freshman orientation for graduating eighth-graders.

“Really?” won second place in a national high school competition during the last school year, prior to the Emmy. McKemey submitted three projects from the school this year and hopes to submit at least as many next year. Her goal is to have Buzz TV win an award all its own.

About 90 students come through the television production classes each day at Fort Mill High.

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