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High schoolers honored for their contribution to police work
Doing the right thing » Hillcrest senior chosen for turning himself in after car crash.
First Published May 02 2013 02:59 pm • Last Updated May 02 2013 03:38 pm

The light poles fell like dominoes as five teens in the Jeep below held their breath.

Christopher Axley had just gotten his driver license.

At a glance

Teens receive Student of the Year awards

Eight students from as many Salt Lake Valley high schools received awards for being leaders in their communities. They were chosen by school resource officers, who teach vocational law-enforcement classes in those schools and handle criminal investigations on school grounds.

The winners were: Christopher Axley (Hillcrest); Betty Castillo (Olympus); Joel Kakela (Kearns); Esabelle Khaosanga (Skyline); Connor Squire (Cyprus); Jacob VanRoosendaal (Riverton); Daryllin Zitting (Taylorsville); Jayden Zundel (Herriman).

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He was trying to impress his friends by doing donuts in the vacant Hillcrest High School parking lot. Instead, his father’s Jeep spun out across the snow-covered blacktop.

After the crash, the teens looked around. The lot was empty. No witnesses.

"We should go," one said. "No one’s here."

Axley shook his head. He knew running would only make things worse. So, he turned himself in.

"I was so scared," he said. "But I wanted to admit what I did. I didn’t want to have that weight, that guilt on my shoulders."

Two years later, Unified Police School Resource Officer Paula Stinson recognized Axley’s display of character.

She said it was part of the reason Axley was one of eight outstanding high-school students from around Salt Lake County who were honored by law enforcement for their leadership.

Axley, an 18-year-old high-school senior, was also one of two to win a $500 academic scholarship to pursue his dream of law enforcement.

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"To say you raised your son to know right from wrong and have the strength to do what’s right, even when it’s not easy — that’s a pretty powerful thing," father Chester Axley said. "My son’s become an inspiration to his friends, but also to me."

The award, presented at the annual International Footprint Association’s luncheon and ceremony on April 23, will help Axley as he heads to Weber State University in the fall.

He’ll be the first in his family to go to college. And he knows exactly what he wants to do after he graduates: become a narcotics police officer.

It’s a nod to a past he barely remembers.

Axley has lived with his father in Midvale for 13 years. Before that, his memories are a blur.

He recalls flashes of courtrooms, leaving his mom, moving in with his dad.

Back then, Axley was too young to understand what was happening to his family.

But now he knows: For years, his parents were addicted to methamphetamine.

It took jail time for his father to clean up his act. But once he did, the father said, he got a job, won custody of his son and never looked back.

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