Daniel Christiansen: Finally Finding His Place In High School


Photo Credit: Daniel Christiansen

Jonathan Stallings, OwlFeed Lifestyle Reporter

It’s 2017 and Daniel Christiansen is a freshman at Agua Fria. High school is about to start. You see it in movies, shows, and all types of stories. They are all walking to their classes and everyone is excited, but not Daniel. 

“I was just miserable honestly,” Daniel said. “I didn’t think of freshman year much. I was too focused on my own pain after a breakup and that’s all I thought about.” 

He was just waiting to go home and escape by playing video games and eating. His grades weren’t looking too bright either — they were mostly Cs and some Ds. And even amongst his friends, he wasn’t having the best time. 

“I met some people who helped a little but it was a bit squandered when a jerk joined the group and kinda ruined it for me,” he explained. “I never really felt like I exactly belonged.”

It’s now 2018. Barely squeaking by with minimum effort, Daniel had passed freshman year. Sophomore year comes along and he’s still down in the dumps, spending half of the year as a repeat of his first year all over again. His friend group is falling apart and he is losing motivation but his dad comes to the rescue.

Daniel said, “My dad pushed me for good grades at sophomore year and he had a reward system that I would earn money if they were good.” 

Thanks to this system he started to take school work seriously and aimed for straight As. In the end, he couldn’t reach it. But because of this he got better working and was ready for the next year.

The latter half of 2019 comes along and junior year starts. He is in theatre class and makes a friend that introduces him to another friend, who introduces him to someone else. All the sudden he has a new friend group.

“I met Daniel when our mutual friend was absent and we became friends after talking that day,” sophomore Conner Hennington said.

Theatre class was his favorite class that year. He didn’t like doing monologues on stage much, but he really enjoyed having a class to just have fun with his friends. 

Mr. Gonzalez was also another big impact on him. He made it easier for Daniel to talk to people and encouraged him to get better at theatre. It was the only class Daniel would be excited about because of that.

“My first impression of him was just that he was another kid just choosing theatre as an easy elective,” Mr. Gonzalez said. “I did not think he would do much of or any work at all. But I was pleasantly surprised when he tried hard to remember scripts and write monologues.”

For the first time, Daniel was somewhat enjoying school. He was enjoying theatre class, and had new friends to hangout with and was even getting almost straight As. And even in the next semester he got lucky enough to have Theatre II with the same friends. But before he knew it, he had to attend online school for the rest of the year.

Photo Credit: Daniel Christiansen

The year is 2020 and senior year for Daniel has started — the time to be thinking about college and what you’re gonna do with your life. What did Daniel have planned? Nothing. He didn’t know what he was going to do, he was stuck doing online school and it was not a fun time because he missed his friends.

He wanted to know what to do after he graduated, and after a suggestion from his dad, he decided to join the Navy. He joined ROTC this year to prepare for it.

Daniel explained further, “It was a quick decision. I just wanted to change my life towards the better. My dad recommended the Navy for it’s skills that can be passed into the real world.”

And now it’s 2021, Daniel is graduating in about two weeks and he’s made a complete 180 since coming here. From coming in as a depressed, failing, lonely kid to a straight A student who made many friends and has his life together. 

“If you were to ask me what I thought of school three years ago, I would have said I hated it, and how I wished I could stay home,” Daniel said. “But now, I’m having a good time. I don’t mind getting up in the morning.”

For me and my friends who started high school last year, Daniel has been there since the beginning. And now we have to watch him leave, not only from school but off to the military as well.

“I think of Daniel as a good friend, almost an older brother in a sense,” Conner said. “He’s really fun and I’m gonna miss him when leaves.”

Daniel had a good run. He wasn’t the captain of the football team, he wasn’t a phenomenal actor, he wasn’t the smartest student, and he didn’t really commit to any clubs. He was just a man who went to school and figured his life out, and that’s just fine.