Diane Sawyer: Beauty in Coke-Bottle Glasses

Millions of Americans see her looking sleek and sophisticated every morning, but Diane Sawyer wasn't always known for her style.

In high school, many people saw her as a brain more than a beauty.

"The first time Diane came into my classroom, she started talking with me about being a sponsor for a new debate team that she wanted to organize. So my impression of her at first was that she was a beautiful, inquisitive, persuasive -- geek," said Alice Lora, Diane's high school English teacher and now a professor at Bluffton College.

With a passion for reading and singing, Diane left fashion somewhat to chance.

"Diane was not much for makeup, and she liked to wear football jerseys a lot," said childhood friend Janis Hennessey.

Coke-bottle glasses were her accessory of choice.

"She had her hair back in a ponytail, and she had these thick, horn-rimmed black glasses," Lora said.

Her shiny blonde locks weren't so shiny back then, according to childhood friend Diane Duffy.

"She, of course, wanted to look good, but if her hair was hanging in front of her eyes or if she looked a bit scruffy that day, it didn't really bother her."

Snooping Around, Playing Library

Growing up in Louisville, Ky., Diane had better things to do than dwell on clothes, hair and makeup.

She loved the outdoors and took pride in knowing what was going on in her neighborhood.

"We used to like to go into the farmer's field," Hennessey said. "The corn was very high, and we would sing and shout our lungs out and have a good time -- just free for all there. We decided that in order to solidify our friendship, that we would be called the 3D Detective Agency."

Diane was a snoop from the beginning.

"We kept notes on things that might be going on in the neighborhood. You know this is a neighborhood where nothing went on," she said.

Diane and her buddies also had a favorite game -- playing library.

"We played library, where we would check books in and out with other neighborhood kids," Duffy said.

Diane admits her idea of fun wasn't typical.

"It doesn't get geekier than that really," she said. "Again, I can't imagine what anybody thought of my idea of 'woo woo' adventure was to play library, file the books, check the books out."

Top of the Class

Her nerdy tendencies paid off.

Diane started school a year early, attending Catholic school before moving on to public grade school.

Consistently, she stayed at the top of her class.

"She was just a model student, she was," said sixth-grade teacher Tyler Taylor. "She was a perfect student for me. Not all students were, but she, she set the bar very high."

Still, Diane found time to indulge in after-school activities.

Piano lessons, tennis lessons -- name the lesson, she took it.

"Diane was always busy with her piano practice or piano lessons or her ballet lessons or her elocution lessons or whatever she had, and I spent a lot of time waiting on her front porch for her," Duffy said.

Usually, Diane ranked in the top of her class. But her high school English teacher gave her a shock one time.

"I had seen already in class discussion that she was brilliant and all of that. But she turned in this first essay -- it didn't go anywhere or say anything," Lora said.

" So I put a D on it, and said, 'You know, Diane, I think you can do much better than this. I think you should stretch yourself. That's the only paper she ever turned in to me that wasn't a perfect, solid A."

Diane took her teacher's advice to heart.

"Actually after graduation, she sat down and wrote a note to me, a teacher, and I still have the note with the little 5-cent stamp on it, thanking me for what I had done," Lora said.

Deciphering the Dating Game

While Diane may have been a star in the classroom, she was still a "D" at dating.

"She was Valentine Queen and Basketball Queen. But when it came to dating, it wasn't always that way," Lora said. "I don't know if boys were intimidated because, first of all, she was very tall for a girl, and, secondly, she was the kind of person who -- she would love [poetry]. There was a creek close to school and close to her home, and she would go down to the creek and read transcendental essays or poetry and those kinds of things."

Even her favorite songs were a bit philosophical. One favorite is called "You Can't Hurry Love."

Diane admits she wasn't the best at the dating game.

"Peter O'Toole in 'Lawrence of Arabia' -- isn't it the saddest story? Not only did I have no date, but Ms. Lora tried to bribe someone to take me and nobody would take me. That's dire," she said.

No doubt, many foolish young boys must now truly, deeply regret not getting to know Diane.

"They didn't know that she could be so down to earth, or they would not have been afraid to ask her out on dates," Duffy said.

In the end, it all worked out. Diane blossomed into the anchor millions enjoy seeing each day, though at her core, she hasn't changed much.

Around her "GMA" family, Diane is still bespectacled, still studious, still philosophical, and sometimes, still a little bit odd.

Today, she's loved for everything that set her apart as a kid.

"I knew her before she was Diane Sawyer," Hennessey said. "But she's the same person she was, the geeky kid, you know, many years ago."