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11-year-old Katherine “Kat” Neuweiler at the Microsoft shareholders meeting this morning. (GeekWire Photo / Todd Bishop)

Updated below with video.

BELLEVUE, Wash. — Brad Smith, Microsoft’s president and chief legal officer, couldn’t help but remark on the age of the person who asked the final question at the company’s annual shareholder meeting this morning.

“Having come here for something like 15 years, I think you’re the youngest person to stand up and ask a question, so it’s a pleasure to have you,” he said, to a round of applause from the audience.

The person at the mic was Katherine “Kat” Neuweiler, 11 years old, a sixth grader who traveled with her dad, Jeff Neuweiler, from their hometown of Arvada, Colo., to attend the Microsoft shareholder meeting. Kat is learning about stocks in her class at Sierra Elementary, and her dad is a longtime Microsoft shareholder. When he received notice of the annual meeting this year, the idea struck them to travel to the meeting together.

Microsoft President Brad Smith at the company's annual meeting this morning. (GeekWire Photo / Todd Bishop)
Microsoft President Brad Smith at the company’s annual meeting this morning. (GeekWire Photo / Todd Bishop)

“We thought it would be really cool just to come out here and experience it for ourselves,” Kat explained.

Added her dad, “This is like a big field trip to actually see how it works, ask questions, learn about stocks and hopefully it will get her more excited about it, so she can take it back to her school and share her experiences with her classmates.”

Kat waited patiently in line while shareholders asked questions about the company and its products. When her turn came at the mic, this is the question she asked: “What investments is Microsoft planning to make for public schools?”

Smith said in response that Microsoft invests in public schools in three ways: its education technology business, providing software and hardware to schools; its philanthropy, investing in programs to support students in public schools around the country; and “using our voice, together with others in our industry to champion the causes of public schools.”

He continued …

We’re very interested in making sure that first, students today in every school in this country and frankly around the world have the opportunity to learn the skills that are going to enable you and your peers to succeed in the decades ahead. In many cases that involves learning new things. But second, we’re really interested in working with public schools. We’re actually especially enthusiastic about the work that Gov. Hickenlooper is driving in the state of Colorado to launch new apprenticeship programs in Colorado.

We think that there’s a lot of opportunity to create new ways for students, starting in high school in the United States, to connect with what they’ll need to learn to go and get great jobs, whether they want to go to a community college or a four-year college, or just go straight into the workforce.

So as much as anything else, we see this as a moment in time where, in Colorado, in Washington and other states, there’s an opportunity for the business community and the nonprofit community and schools to really come together and innovate. And I’d actually say from my perspective, you happen to live in a state where there’s a lot of exciting innovation, and we’re trying to learn more from Colorado ourselves.

It was a comprehensive answer, and Kat seemed satisfied with it. “Thank you,” she said, as the meeting ended. She and her dad are headed back home today, bringing one very unique field trip to a close.

See our earlier report for more from Microsoft’s annual meeting.

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