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A Colorado Springs middle-school student was recently selected for an international program that gives budding young reporters on-the-job training before they even reach high school.

Layla Laramie, a 7th-grader at Challenger Middle School, is one of 36 youngsters aged 10-14 who were selected from a pool of hundreds of applicants to participate in the 2021-2022 Scholastic Kids Press program. Laramie, 12, will interview Colorado Springs residents on a variety of topics, from entertainment, to sports, to politics. Her work, and the work of her fellow Kid Reporters, will be published in future issues of Scholastic magazine.

The program is dedicated to “helping kids share their viewpoints and learn to write stories that affect their peers and adults as well,” said Suzanne McCabe, editor of Scholastic Kids Press.

Each year, Scholastic magazine editors pore through hundreds of application packages and pick a select few based on writing ability, interviewing skills and attention to detail, McCabe said. Applicants are required to submit a sample news article, an essay explaining why they want to join the program, and two story ideas.

“It’s really exciting to see the ideas they come up with and the issues they confront, from climate change, to racism, to ending wars,” McCabe said. “They have such an interesting view of the world, and of their place in it.”

Laramie, who runs cross-country in addition to playing softball, soccer and basketball, said she wants to report on how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected classrooms, activities, and sports.

“I really like informing my community on what’s happening,” she said.

Over the 20-year history of the program, Kid Reporters have interviewed Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, “Hamilton” composer Lin-Manuel Miranda, conservationist Jane Goodall, Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden, and a host of other notable personalities.

Laramie has a particular interest in profiling influential women. She has highlighted Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Malala Yousafzai in previous school projects, and she said her dream interview would be Vice President Kamala Harris.

“I’d want to know why she wanted to (be Vice President), what inspired her, and what she hopes to inspire in future generations,” she said.

Many former Kid Reporters have gone on to careers in print and broadcast journalism, McCabe said.

“We’ve had kids grow up to become reporters, producers, or art directors,” she said. “The program looks for kids with an interest in journalism, and many of our Kid Reporters maintain that interest years later.”

But Laramie appears to be on a different career track, at least for the time being. She said she hopes to become a heart surgeon.

“We went on a field trip in 5th grade, and we got to dissect a sheep’s heart. I’ve been interested in (heart surgery) since then,” Laramie said. “But I’d still like to write as a hobby.”

Upon completion of the program, students who still fall within the age range and would like to do another year are encouraged to re-apply. Laramie said she would consider applying for a second year.

“We’re excited to see what Layla brings us,” McCabe said. “I think she’s going to be great.”

This content was originally published here.