Toby Buckheim received a nomination in the music video category for “Snowhemian Rhapsody,” a frame of which is see here.

Toby Buckheim received a nomination in the music video category for “Snowhemian Rhapsody,” a frame of which is see here.

Photo provided by Royal Oak Schools

Royal Oak students honored by local Emmys

By: Mike Koury | Royal Oak Review | Published May 10, 2023

 Dakota Hendren was honored with a student Emmy award for her video on young voters that featured Vice President Kamala Harris.

Dakota Hendren was honored with a student Emmy award for her video on young voters that featured Vice President Kamala Harris.

Photo provided by Royal Oak Schools


ROYAL OAK — Two Royal Oak High School students were recognized with nominations by the local Emmys, with one taking home an award.

The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Michigan Chapter held the Student Production Awards on April 23. It was at the ceremony that Dakota Hendren and Toby Buckheim received nominations for their submitted work in their respective categories, with Hendren taking home a trophy.

Hendren was nominated in the “News Report-Light News” category for her piece, “Vice President Kamala Harris on why young voters matter.” It covered Hendren’s visit to an event held by Harris last fall to rally young voters, interviews with students from the high school and a question posed to the vice president by Hendren.

An 18-year-old senior from Royal Oak, Hendren originally hoped to get an interview with Harris during the event but was told that wasn’t possible because of Harris’ schedule. However, Hendren was able to join the press pool and follow the vice president around for the day.

Hendren said she was excited to be able to take part in the day’s event, but it turned out better than she had hoped when she was informed that she would be able to ask Harris a question on young voters — the only one she would take at the rally.

“That was like a dream come true and it helped me realize that I wanted to go into political journalism, and kind of prove to me and my family that I could be successful in this field,” she said.

Hendren took her footage and edited the piece together. After looking over her work, she said the completed cut felt powerful to her, especially as it was coming out during the 2022 midterm elections.

When she was informed about the Emmys by her teacher, Film/Television/Video Production teacher Mike Conrad, about a possible nomination, Hendren was excited but didn’t want to get her hopes up about the possibility.

To not only get a nomination, but to win the award, affirmed Hendren’s passion for journalism.

“This really made it come all together then in the last few months, like, I made this happen. I’ve made what I’m passionate about a reality for myself and showed other people that I can be successful, and that even if they say, ‘Journalism’s a dying career, like, why would you go into that,’ I can be like, ‘Oh, here are these things that I did. I made it work for myself,’ and it’s awesome to see that,” she said.

Conrad, who attended the rally alongside Hendren, said he was excited to submit her video because he was pretty confident in it winning an award.

“This was just one of those pieces that I knew had to go into the running for a higher-level award,” he said. “When a student comes into a class and creates a video, chances are they feel like they’re just making an assignment, and once they finish it, they’re done. Some of these students who are in my third-year film class, which Dakota is, she knows that her work is going to be seen, but she doesn’t know that it’s going to be recognized with awards. So while she’s thrilled that it gets thrown out to websites and such, the award was a nice icing on the cake for her senior year and she’s had an amazing year.”

Buckheim, a 17-year-old senior from Madison Heights, was nominated in the music video category for his project, “Snowhemian Rhapsody,” a parody of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” that was used to announce the district’s first snow day of the year.

After completing the project, Buckheim said he expected the video to get some views, but he never expected to get coverage from local news media and thousands of views online, which blew him away. It only got better when he was informed of his Emmy nomination.

“That’s when I was like, ‘Oh wow, people actually liked (my video),’ and I can actually do something that people would like to watch and enjoy,” he said. “I was just, once again, blown away because I was never expecting to make it to that level with my videos.”

Jaret Grisamer, the WOAK station manager at  Royal Oak Schools, thought Buckheim’s video was fun and creative, and turned out to be a big success for the district.

“It was great to see that the Emmys were acknowledging the work that Toby put in,” he said. “It was his big project that he was working on through the fall. We actually had it done around November, and then we saved it for, obviously, the first snow day that we had. We were all very proud of the work that he put into it, and we’re even more, I think Toby and myself were even more proud of all the work that the district put into it, like teachers wanting to be a part of it, and admin looking forward to seeing it.”

While Buckheim didn’t win the award, he was still happy to be nominated, as he wasn’t expecting to get recognized at all with the music video.

“I mean, just getting the message that I made top three in the state of Michigan for the high school music video category was honestly enough for me,” he said. “I was really excited to go and be a part of the process of the student Emmys and to see all the other videos that were created, and watching all the awards. For my first time, I couldn’t have asked for a better experience.”