PERU – Kayla Provencher was in class at Dirigo Middle School when she noticed her phone had a text message from her mom.

“I’m going to Japan!” the 13-year-old said she screamed, when she read the message.

She had just been invited to join the U.S. Junior team to compete in two Goodwill Games’ karate competitions.

As a 4-year-old, Kayla sat watching “Karate Kid” on television and started copying the moves. That beginning would lead to the invitation to participate in the Junior Karate-Do tournament in Japan in March.

Kayla said it was her dream to start karate lessons at age 4, but she had to wait until she was 6 to begin formal lessons. Her strong passion for karate has kept her focused on achieving her dream of being invited to the international tournament.

Kayla has been competing for six years, and has consistently placed in the top three in competitions in her age group. She took first place in the Junior Olympics in Knoxville, Tenn., and placed in the top third in the nationals in Winston-Salem, N.C., her mother, Valerie Provencher, said.

Kayla earned her adult black belt more than a year ago and now helps teach beginner classes at Pelletier’s Karate in Lewiston.

“It takes a lot of commitment, and she has earned her way,” Valerie Provencher said.

In addition to attending lessons four or five times a week, Kayla practices an hour a day at home.

She is also vice president of the Student Council at Dirigo Middle School.

Kayla said karate has helped her remain focused in school. “Being able to stay focused is a key in achieving success in karate,” she said.

Kayla will be in Osaka, Japan on March 23 and Tokyo on March 29.

On March 1 there will be a benefit supper at the Rockemeka Grange Hall in Peru to raise money for her travel expenses.

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