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'Amazing Kid' chatted with Obama, started own business

Jacob Schroeder, 15, is one of dozens honored by Pamplin Media Group

Jacob Schroeder, a 15-year-old freshman at Hillsboro's Liberty High School, has started his own business, been involved in an array of extracurricular and volunteer activities and had the distinction of being the longest-serving reporter for Scholastic News Kids Press Corps, a nationwide team of young reporters who produce “news for kids by kids.”

He's also been selected as an "Amazing Kid" who'll be recognized along with others by the Pamplin Media Group at an event later this month for his efforts toward improving his community.

But it was working for Scholastic News where Schroeder has his most memorable experience: being invited to the White House to become the first student journalist to ever interview a sitting U.S. president.

In 2011, Schroeder, along with Topanga Sena, a fellow kid reporter from central Florida, visited the White House for a wideranging back-to-school interview with the commander in chief that spanned topics including the Constitution, challenges facing the economy, the importance of education and others.

“What are the greatest challenges facing our generation?” Schroeder — clad in the red shirt worn by members of the Scholastic News Kids Press Corps — asks Barack Obama in an online video of the interview.

“Each generation has its own challenges,” responded the president, who noted the nation's education system and climate change as problems that will face upcoming generations.

Schroeder also asked what books the president read growing up, which Obama said included “The Lord of the Rings,” comic books and “To Kill a Mockingbird.” The president also discussed how important it is to have a good education to succeed in today's economy, and also discussed the significance of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

The interview concluded with a special guest — the first family's dog Bo — to the delight of the reporters.

At the age of 7, Schroeder became the youngest reporter at Scholastic News, and he began filing news reports, book reviews as well as videotaped interviews for the news outlet.

In addition to interviewing the president, he also interviewed U.S. Sen. John McCain, two New Mexico governors and others. He had to retire from Scholastic News at age 14, the cutoff age for kid reporters, but he said he won't be continuing his career in journalism.

“It's a fun job,” he said in a recent interview. “But it's not a career.”

Schroeder already owns his own business, Imagine Balloons, under which he makes animals, dragons, mermaids and superheroes out of balloons. He's done private parties and twisted balloons at the Oregon State Fair — and has become a fixture at the Farmers' Market held each Sunday at Orenco Station in Hillsboro.

Eric Winger knows Schroeder from working as a volunteer coach for Future Stars Toastmasters, a club that teaches public speaking and leadership skills to kids. Impressed with the way Schroeder ran meetings as the club's president, and noting his amiable and professional demeanor, Winger nominated him as one of the community's Amazing Kids. Winger suspects that having worked as a student reporter helped set Schroeder on his current path.

“If you're talking to people who have succeeded in life again and again, that's going to have an incredible impact on a young kid,” said Winger. “And it's possible that meeting these famous people inspired him.”

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