A different kind of ball is bouncing into Raleigh's RBC Center today -- one with dresses instead of jerseys, dinner napkins in place of sweaty towels and Broadway stars in lieu of hoops studs.
It's the 2005 N.C. Education Ball, a fund-raiser for Communities in Schools of North Carolina, an anti-dropout program. The 3 1/2-hour event will feature entertainment promoting students and their teachers.
THE TIMETABLE: 6:30 to 10 p.m. today
WHO'LL BE THERE: Educators, business leaders, mentors and students. The event, which cost $150 per ticket, is sold out.
THE PURPOSE: To honor teachers, mentors and their students. And to raise $300,000 or more for Communities in Schools.
"Our mission is to keep kids in school and make sure they graduate," said Linda Harrill, president of Communities in Schools. "We wanted to do something like the Grammys or the Oscars to celebrate the people who work with kids in schools every day. This is as much a friend-raiser as a fund-raiser."
NUMBER OF VOLUNTEERS: 60 and growing.
DECORATIONS: Dinner tables with bromeliad flowering plants and white pots with polka dots in hot pink, turquoise, purple and lime green. Balloons. Candles. Low light. Stage and dance floor.
"Trying to make the RBC Center floor look like something other than a basketball or hockey game is a challenging proposition," said Margot Murphy, who is in charge of food and decorations. "This year, the look is less formal and more fun."
ENTERTAINMENT: A Broadway-type show of music and dance with the theme "Retro to Techno: 50 Years of Progress." Music will range from '50s tunes to today's hip-hop.
SPECIAL GUESTS: U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, U.S. Reps. Bob Etheridge and Brad Miller; Broadway actress Lauren Kennedy of Raleigh, actor Alan Campbell, tenor George Merritt.
TO DONATE OR TO HELP NEXT YEAR: Call Communities in Schools at 832-2700.