THE MARYLAND State Boychoir, named "Official Goodwill Ambassadors of the State of Maryland" by William Donald Schaefer when he was Maryland's governor, performed for the congregation of Abiding Savior Lutheran Church on Friday. The concert was of particular interest for the congregation because two chorus members, Joshua and Justin Warfield, are the sons of the Rev. Marie Warfield Bunt, the church's pastor.
"People just call my kids 'the dancer,' 'the singer' or 'the artist,'" Bunt said. "They're all artistic in one way or another."
Joshua, a 15-year-old freshman at Wilde Lake High School, has an interest in painting as well as singing. He was recently awarded a scholarship for a young artists program at a Baltimore arts college. Joshua also serves as an assisting minister at Abiding Savior Lutheran, where he assists with the service.
Justin, 11, is a sixth-grader at Harper's Choice Middle School. He sings in the most advanced group of the Maryland State Boychoir and plays piano, trumpet, violin and percussion instruments.
Bunt's daughter, JennaMarie Warfield, 10, sings in the church's children's choir and performs with Arabesque Dance Company in Columbia.
Bunt said she thinks the Maryland State Boychoir is the best children's choir in the area - and she should know. Before becoming a minister, Bunt was a professional opera singer. Bunt attended Peabody Conservatory and was a soprano with the Tri-City Opera.
"What changed all that was having my first child," Bunt said. "Touring and all that just wasn't compatible with having a baby."
Bunt said she continued singing until Joshua was about 2 years old, when she found herself at a professional and personal crossroads.
"There was always music in my life, but I was also awed by the transcendence of God and knew that there had to be more," she said.
She decided to leave the opera - and a full-time position as the musical director for Zion Lutheran Church in Hummelstown, Pa. - and in 1987 she enrolled in the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg.
"I was one of the first people in seminary that had children," Bunt said. "Instead of cloistering myself in the library, I would go home and do my studies between changing diapers. It was very difficult, but I got through a four-year Masters of Divinity program in six years. I was pregnant twice while I was there, but I really felt that was what God wanted or I wouldn't have been there. I'm not that much of a masochist."
Bunt finds similarities between being a singer and ministering to a flock. "The difference between a good singer and a great singer is that connection with the audience," she said. "It's very much like being a pastor with your congregation."
The PTA at Clemens Crossing Elementary School has come up with an innovative solution for parents who dread the annual trip to the store for next year's school supplies: The group is selling prepackaged school supplies.
"The PTA is offering this purely as a service. It's not a fund-raiser," said PTA member Lori Jenner.
Jenner asks the teachers what supplies they want their pupils to have for the next year, and the PTA contracts with an outside company to buy in bulk and deliver a year's worth of supplies to families that choose to participate.
"It just helps the parents out," Jenner said. "Between running carpools and trying to be in 10 different places at a time, something like this can save time, trouble and aggravation for parents trying to gather these materials."
The cost of the materials varies from grade to grade, ranging from $18.50 for everything needed for a second-grade class to $41.50 for fifth-grade supplies.
PTAs in at least five other Howard County schools offer the service. But Jenner acknowledges the program won't appeal to everyone.
"There are definitely parents who know that their kids want to pick out their own supplies," she said. "It's part of the excitement." It's like a rite of passage to the next grade."
Mary Ellen Duncan, president of Howard Community College, will speak about women helping women at a dinner of the Columbia chapter of the American Business Women's Association 6 p.m. Monday at the Columbia Sheraton on Wincopin Circle.
Women are invited to participate in the discussion and meet with professional women.
Tickets are $25; reservations are required. Information: 410-379- 5901.