Connecting at school wasn't easy for Samantha Swancutt - a 17-year-old who was a dropout statistic but decided to give herself another chance.
As a young girl, she had back problems, including scoliosis, that prompted two surgeries when she was in fifth and sixth grades, making her miss a lot of class.
In the sixth grade, her family moved and she changed schools.
In these early years, she walked funny because of her crooked spine and with a walker after the operations. She wore a series of back braces through middle school and still sits stick straight. She says most students just didn't understand her challenges: "I got picked on a lot."
As a ninth-grader at Nampa High School, she began well as captain of the cheer squad, but found her shyness kept her from fitting in.
"I just felt really awkward," she said.
When she did find friends, they were from the wrong crowd, and trouble followed.
"Don't rely on your friends to make your high school experience," she advises now. "Rely on yourself."
Read the complete story at idahostatesman.com