Steppin’ Out showcases young talent

Published 7:07 am Thursday, March 25, 2010

Lifestyles & Features Editor

Several hundred Beaufort County Schools students will be featured in Friday’s 16th-annual Steppin’ Out performance.
The show starts at 7:30 p.m. in the Washington High School Performing Arts Center. If you don’t have a ticket, you’re out of luck; the performance is sold out.
Steppin’ Out serves dual purposes, according to Keri Parker, the event’s producer and executive director of the Beaufort County Schools Education Foundation. It’s a fundraiser for the foundation, and, more importantly, it is a showcase for talented area youngsters.
“We have 13 schools participating, with 16 acts. The high schools get two acts a piece,” Parker said during technical rehearsals Wednesday afternoon. “There’s a mixture of things, and all grade levels are coming in. There’s dancing, singing, bands and choirs.”
During Wednesday’s rehearsals, Briana McLaurin, a tiny girl with a big voice, was performing her solo for the “We Are the World” production number. Shortly afterward, students from Chocowinity Primary School took to the stage for a rousing song-and-dance number devoted to pirates. Later, musicians from Beaufort County Ed Tech Center performed.
“There’s a lot of hard work that goes into this,” Parker said. “When I was in fourth grade I was in it. It is so much fun to come and see other schools perform.”
Joe Sizemore is directing this year’s show, his third time at the helm. But he’s been involved with the Steppin’ Out project since the beginning. Janet Cox is choreographing the production.
“It really is a showcase of the talent we have here, and it shows just how hard the teachers and the staff work to put this on,” Parker said. “The music teachers and the band teachers are in charge at each school.”
Steppin’ Out also recognizes students who excel in the visual arts by including a logo-design contest as part of the celebration. This year’s winner is Raphael Lilley, a seventh-grader at Bath Elementary School.
The Beaufort County Schools Education Foundation serves as a support network for the public schools. Its mission is to promote educational excellence by assisting financially with projects that go beyond the scope of the regular classroom program.
“We’re here for the schools to kind of help the teachers with the extras,” Parker said. “One of the things we do are the PIE grants.”
Those Partner in Education grants are distributed to local educators who have submitted creative and innovative proposals for classroom projects.
For more information about the Beaufort County Schools Education Foundation, visit