Miranda Jones can remember many afternoons in the counselor’s office in her small-town Colorado middle school, crying about other kids relentlessly teasing about her weight, CNN reports. Now at a top-ranked women’s college in the Northeast, Jones is grateful her debate coaches helped her find something she loved that kept her focused and got her into college. “Without an after-school activity, academic support from adults and without constantly reminding myself that it wasn’t going to last forever, I never would have survived the endless taunts of my peers.”

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