VERNON — On Sunday, May 21, 15 students from the Vernon Valley Karate Academy put their skills, strength and determination on the line as they tested for Black Belt rank. Each student demonstrated proficiency in all of the necessary aspects of this martial art. This included performing kata, prearranged forms that demonstrate karate technique, kumite, sparring against other black belt level students, and application of their skills in self-defense situations. Sensei Tom Shull, owner and head instructor at the Vernon Academy commented, “All of my candidates rose to the occasion and made me so very proud. After years of preparation and commitment, these students found that they have what it takes to achieve the coveted rank of Black Belt. I praise their commitment, devotion, spirit, and strength.Promoted to the rank of Shodan (1st degree black belt) were: Shane Lyden, Yorgo Liaros, Zachary Trost, Cody Williams, Katarina Gomez, Jennifer Fattorusso, and Joseph Fattorusso. Promoted to Nidan (2nd degree black belt) were Sacha Dorsey, Jim Dorsey, Nick Vigiletti, Juliann Vigiletti, Ian Houtman, Kaitlyn Gallaugher, and Tyler Lohwin. Promoted to the rank of Godan (5th degree black belt) was Tim Duvelsdorf.