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Inner Banks STEM Center preps for annual dinner dance

The staff of the Inner Banks STEM Center is gearing up for one of its biggest fundraising events of the year, and with it comes a host of new changes and improvements to the nonprofit’s facilities and programing.

Next Saturday evening marks the eighth-annual IBX STEM Center Dinner Dance, held from 6 to 10:30 p.m. at the Washington Civic Center. The event will feature dinner from Keyzer’s Catering, live music from The Main Event, an auction, a cash bar and plenty of dancing.

IBX STEM Center President Al Powell says that this year’s dinner-dance, organized by event co-chairs Melissa Jarvis and Jeanette Blackman, is shaping up to be one for the books.

“They are exceptional,” Powell said. “They have put together what I think will be our best event ever. It promises to be one of our best attended events.”

For the IBX STEM Center, the event is the culmination of a year’s worth of progress. Powell says a number of new developments, including the addition of new board members, will help the organization further its goals of preparing young people for Beaufort County jobs in the 21st century economy.

“One of our missions is to provide positive incentives for some of these kids, especially those that feel disenchanted because they’re facing at-risk challenges,” Powell said. “They feel the way to escape that situation is by leaving Beaufort County as soon as they can. If we can expose them to programs or educational opportunities, and give them some positive opportunities, maybe they will see they can get an education and come back to Beaufort County. They may see they don’t have to leave Beaufort County.”

Part of the educational opportunities the Center offers, Powell says teaching kids soft skills is equally important to teaching them about science and math. It’s all part of the program’s three core values of STEM, following one’s moral compass and promoting health and fitness.

The third goal of health and fitness will soon see a boost from a new Youth Biometric Health Risk Assessment Program, which Powell hopes will contribute to the overall health of local young people. New biometric devices will be unveiled during a ribbon cutting 9 a.m. next Saturday morning at the IBX STEM Center on Airport Road.

Offering summer camps in boating and aviation, Powell says the nonprofit is also looking at ways to open those programs to a wider variety of students. With grant funding currently sustaining those programs coming to an end in the next year, that opens the door for opening them up to students who don’t fall into the at-risk category.

Tickets are still available for the IBX STEM Dinner Dance, and can be purchased at the Washington-Beaufort County Chamber of Commerce or First Bank of Washington for $45 per person or $85 for two. Powell says donations to the organization’s mission are also welcome. For more information, visit www.ibxstem.org.