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All the Right Moves

Charlize Lopez holds the bronze medal she won for Kata at the recent USA National Karate Championship and U.S. Team Trials at Greenville, South Carolina. More than 1,700 delegates from all 50 states participated.

Charlize Lopez holds the bronze medal she won for Kata at the recent USA National Karate Championship and U.S. Team Trials at Greenville, South Carolina. More than 1,700 delegates from all 50 states participated.

Talented Sixth-Grader Charlize Lopez Is An Accomplished Student, Athletic And Artist

By Mara Soloway

When she talks, Charlize Lopez uses expressive hand gestures that seem to mimic karate moves, which makes perfect sense: this vibrant sixth-grader in the Quail Valley Middle School gifted and talented program started practicing karate seven years ago when she was 5 years old.

As a fifth-grader last school year, she was one of eight Fort Bend ISD students who participated in the 2017 Texas State Karate Champions and Qualifier in May. (This makes the fourth year Charlize has placed in the Texas championship.) Each placed in the top three positions in their divisions in the prestigious competition. Charlize placed in the Gold, Kata (form), and Kobudo (weapons) categories.

This achievement allowed the junior black belt to advance to the 2017 USA National Championships and Team Trials held in July in Greenville, South Carolina, for which she had been training seven days a week since school was out. She earned a bronze in Kata. She was also a national champion in 2015.

Meanwhile, in August she started training to join Team USA and compete internationally. Charlize might one day participate in the sport in the 2024 Olympics games; she will be a few months short of the requirement that athletes be age 16 for the 2020 games. Her passion and commitment to the sport show no signs of waning by that time. “When I’m waiting to perform at first I’m nervous, but when I’m in the zone and performing I’m not nervous anymore,” she said, showing those hand gestures and also the confidence she has gained in practicing the sport for seven years.

Ramon Veras, Charlize’s teacher, known as “sensei,” at Traditional Karate Center in Sugar Land where she trains, feels she has the kind of dedication it takes to succeed exceptional in many ways. She really loves karate playing video games or watching TV, she’s in the dojo training. The family support plays a big role as well.”

Tyler, Charlize’s 7-year-old brother, is also a karate champion. The family also includes father Jaime, mother Jam, and 5-year-old sister Haven. The whole family practices karate at Traditional Karate Center.

Charlize shows this commitment to excellence in all her pursuits. Her academic achievements include earning the Presidential award from third to fifth grade for having straight As and excellent STAR test results, and the citizenship award for being a role model to other students by seeing a need in their school/community and having the initiative and perseverance to make a change. Charlize plays violin in the Quail Valley Middle School Philharmonic and sings in the choir at St. Laurence Catholic Church, where she is a parishioner. She also plays piano. She has earned writing awards since she was in pre-K, being recognized last school year for the best essay in the district in the STAR practice writing test. She is also working on a novel. One of Charlize’s drawings was published in a book called Celebrating Art that features student art contest winners.

Her community service and leadership deeds include having been chosen to be a member of the Fort Bend Children’s Discovery Center Kids’ Committee since August 2016. In July 2017, she was among the Fort Bend ISD students recognized by the Lone Star Leadership Academy Alumni Council for creating and leading a service project. Her project — Warm Coats, Warm Hearts — came about after her family chose one letter to respond to as part of their church’s Christmas-giving efforts.

Charlize modestly described that project’s success. “A girl wrote that all she wanted was a coat for Christmas – not a toy, not a book – just a coat. That inspired me to do the coat donation. My family came up with the idea to have three places to collect the coats: my school, the karate dojo and at my mom’s work. So then I spoke on the school announcements that we would need coats. The first few days there were a lot of coats pouring in. After we collected the coats, we went to a homeless shelter and gave out food, coats, water – all kinds of things.” One of the women there told her to be kind to her mom and a child asked her to deliver toys next time. The video she made for the project is on YouTube by searching for “Charlize Lopez service project.”

One of the many things Charlize’s mother is proud of is that Charlize stood up to students who were bullying a boy whose father had just passed away; Jam and Charlize reported it to the school and the school took action. Charlize unfortunately knows what it felt like to be in that boy’s shoes: in kindergarten she and her best friend were bullied by two girls on the bus. Her mom saw a change in the mood of her normally happy daughter and got to the root of the issue. Jam went to the school, which took action against the girls. Charlize was also bullied in fifth grade; the school also took action at that time.

Charlize is inspired to take on so many endeavors and excel in them in part by her idol, who was a leading figure of the Italian Renaissance. “Leonardo Di Vinci was an inventor, he was an artist, he was a scientist. He did lots of things and that’s why I want to be just like him,” Charlize said. “I want to have so many jobs, so many accomplishments.”


All the right moves.

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