CALL Mark Joyce's pager, and a girl's voice says, in a strong drawl, "Hi, my name is Kristen Joyce. I am a black-belt candidate. If you wish to speak to my daddy, Mark Joyce, please leave a message."
In February, Kristen, a fourth-grader at Elkridge Elementary School, was one of the youngest children to earn a first-degree karate black belt in the state -- though her father has yet to change his message because he loves her put-on Texas accent.
She has 22 trophies in her room and has won first place in the East Coast Regional Karate Tournament three times.
Kristen has taken TKA (Tompkins Karate Association) classes offered by the Howard County Department of Recreation and Parks at Rockburn Elementary School since she was 6 years old. She took additional lessons to prepare for the competition in February.
Now she instructs the beginner white-belt class at Rockburn and attends another karate class, as a student, with adults.
Christmas in April
Twenty-eight homes were renovated April 25 as part of the Christmas in April program in Howard County. Twelve of those homes were in Elkridge and one was in Ellicott City.
The goal of the program, says executive director Carolyn Harlowe, is "to make the houses safe, warm and dry. It's amazing that in this county that many think of as well-to-do, how many people are living on $8,000 a year. They own their own home and it is falling apart around them."
This year, 26 sponsoring organizations agreed to renovate 28 homes. Forty-five people applied to have work done on their homes.
St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Glen Mar Methodist Church and the Columbia Bank renovated homes in Elkridge.
The Ellicott City Rotary worked on a house in Columbia.
Mark Dennis, who has coordinated the Christmas in April program for Glen Mar Methodist for seven years, decided to return to the home of Bussie Britton, which the church group had repaired several years ago as part of the same program.
Dennis visits Britton occasionally and performs odd jobs for her. He describes her as a frail 88-year-old, but one who is "as tough as nails and just keeps going." He says he admires her resolve to live long enough to celebrate the millennium.
Britton says she was startled when she walked into her kitchen on Sunday morning -- she wasn't sure where she was.
The kitchen had been brown, but now is painted white and blue. New white linoleum with blue flowers covers the floor.
Volunteers painted her home, installed a new kitchen and bath and even, Britton says, brought her a beautiful new tablecloth with tulips on it.
"I've never had as much as I have now," she says. "Come by and see my beautiful kitchen."
Christmas in April depends on community support and volunteer efforts. This year, more than 700 volunteers, including 85 students, participated.
The Centennial High School Orchestra and Symphonic Band will present its spring concert from 7: 30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday at the school.
The orchestra consists of 63 students who auditioned last fall. The band includes 78 students.
Kathy Cammarata will direct the orchestra in a program that includes works by Prokofiev, Rimsky-Korsakov and Grieg.
Student conductor Darwin Chen will conduct "Prelude on an American Folk Tune" by Claude Smith.
Michael Lui, violinist, and Sara Siegle, violist, will play the duet from the fifth movement of Grieg's "Holberg Suite."
Andy Yang will perform a violin solo.
Max VanDerBeek will direct the Symphonic Band in "Gettysburg: The Third Day," by Jay Dawson. The piece reflects a soldier's experience on the battlefield -- from dawn, into battle and to his death.
Student Ram Srinivasan will conduct "Stars and Stripes Forever," by John Philip Sousa.
The two student conductors and student Joel Frisch have been part of a mentorship program at Centennial, says Cammarata. She and VanDerBeek have served as mentors to the student conductors. Jeff Brodie, band director at Burleigh Manor Middle School, has been Frisch's mentor.
Information: Centennial High, 410-313-2856.
Informed Citizens, a community group, is sponsoring a series of free video seminars on the theme "Do You Love America?"
The seminars will be held from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. on the second Wednesday of the month at the Elkridge branch of the Howard County library.
On May 13, the group will present the video, "WACO: The Rules of Engagement," which was recently nominated in the "Best Documentary" category of the Academy Awards.
Gary Galvin, who works in the Elkridge area, has arranged the monthly schedule.
Maureen Duffy, a Catonsville resident who is promoting the seminars, says that informal discussions sometimes develop after the videos.
The programs are free. Reservations: 410-719-0584.
Three students from Ellicott City, Reed Abrahamson, Deborah Ramsey-Moor and Abigail Arnold-Ochs, sang with 11 other students in the "Chorus of the Street Children" in the recent Baltimore Opera production of "Carmen." The students were members of the Peabody Children's Chorus.
The Peabody Children's Chorus has more than 250 singers. More than 100 children sing at the Howard County location.
The Howard County branch, which meets at Patapsco Middle School in Ellicott City, will hold auditions June 25. The chorus includes four levels of ensembles for children ages 6 to 18.
Information: Peabody Prep, 410-659-8125.
Special Olympics' Howard County Aquatics Team enjoyed success at the Anne Arundel County Qualifier Swim Meet April 25 at the U.S. Naval Academy.
The Howard County team dominated the seven-county competition, winning 28 gold, 18 silver and eight bronze medals.
Aaron Robertson of Elkridge was recognized for swimming in deep water for the first time. Aly Eberhardt of Jessup won a bronze medal in the 15-meter event.
Jane Ahn, Brian Mooney and Wayne Slifker -- all Ellicott City residents -- captured gold medals as members of the 100-meter freestyle relay team.
Stephanie Baker of Elkridge participated in the gold-medal victory of the 100-meter medley relay team, and Michaela Parks of Ellicott City won a silver medal in the freestyle competition.
Pub Date: 5/04/98