This item is a bit late, but we'll have to blame the sluggishness of overland communication from Vermont. For most people, a report that Warren Hunter was the speaker at the junior high school commencement at Grand Isle, a town on the shore of Lake Champlain, would evoke a simple, "So what?"

Except that Hunter is a Metrobus driver from Washington.

He was chosen by the kids he drove around Washington on their spring visit here. They were asked who they wanted as their speaker, and by secret ballot they chose Hunter, who on seven previous years had driven charters for Grand Isle students on their annual tours. His services are always requested by name.

For Hunter, the bid to speak--accompanied by airline tickets for him and his wife--came as a total surprise. Though his spiel on the bus describing Washington's attractions is a speech of sorts, never before had he stood in front of an audience.

After consulting a couple of books, including Dale Carnegie's, he prepared a speech entitled "Speak Up for America." He won a standing ovation.

As he spoke, Hunter said, he saw a young woman in the audience sobbing. He encountered her later and asked why. She told him she wanted him to visit her family but was afraid he would turn her down. The next night, he went to their poverty-stricken home and met many family members who "loaded me up with raspberry preserves and maple syrup. . . . It was wonderful, just wonderful."

Also included: a reception at the home of the purportedly richest family in town and dinner at the lodge run by the von Trappe family of "Sound of Music" fame.

Warren has been a bus driver here since 1960. He's currently assigned to the Bladensburg Division.