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Audience jumps for talent showcase

By By JONATHAN CLAYBORNE News Editor
Hundreds cheered excellence in motion Friday night during Beaufort County Schools' annual "Steppin' Out" in the Washington High School Performing Arts Center.
Parents, teachers and school supporters took applause one step further, though.
The audience occasionally rose from its chairs to dance and applaud some of the 500 students who stepped, sang, acted and played their way across the stage.
National pride asserted itself from the top of the show with the presentation of the colors by JROTC flag-bearers from Northside and Washington high schools.
The WHS show choir sang "The Star-Spangled Banner"; the white-gloved cadets snapped to attention and saluted; and the audience roared its approval. An estimated 1,200 or more attended, said Carolyn Walker, one of the producers.
Backstage, last-minute preparations were made. Performers waited in "greenrooms" -- classrooms -- and were scattered down two halls of the school, watching the showcase on televisions.
In the south hall, vocalist Mandy Woolard rested as Carmen Kellum and Ashley Nanney put the finishing touches on a self-choreographed routine. Later, Woolard would sing "Beautiful" while watching her two peers from Southside High School dance.
Nervousness didn't seem to be a problem.
Onstage, schools Superintendent Anthony Parker led a moment of silence to remember the troops in Iraq. Later, Southside's band would play "The Light Eternal," recalling a sunken Navy vessel from World War II.
But things ended upbeat when the whole cast returned for the finale with "I Got the Music in Me," taking to the aisles to rouse the crowd one more time.
Jonathan Clayborne may be reached by telephone at 940-4213 or via e-mail at jonathan@wdnweb.com.