We are thrilled to announce the introduction of two more exceptional North Central alumni into the Hall of Fame. Since 1991, North Central has honored a number of esteemed alumni with induction. These inductees help highlight the work and accomplishments of our prestigious Panther alumni.
North Central does an incredible job of preparing students for future success. This foundation creates a network of well-regarded and accomplished alumni, but can make the selection process of honoring only a few each year difficult. A committee comprised of North Central alumni who are current members of the high school faculty convene each year to consider all nominees (you can nominate an alumnus at any point). The North Central Alumni Hall of Fame will now consist of 108 members, thanks to the two inductees for 2018…
Cheryl Pedlow Bridges Flanagan Treworgy ‘66
It is likely that few women athletes running for North Central today realize the barriers, that would have prevented them from participating and competing just 55 years ago, were shattered by one of their very own.
In the 1960’s, pre-Title IX, there were few organized athletic opportunities for women anywhere; and North Central was no exception. Cheryl Pedlow had the opportunity and participated in cheerleading and baton twirling during her time as a Panther. But her desire, even with no women’s track or running programs, was to engage in running. After the band, football team and cross country teams left the practice field, Cheryl would sneak onto the track and jog. Charlie Riley, the North Central Cross Country coach at the time, learned of her desire and encouraged her to run with his team. Unfortunately, the community and School Board were not as encouraging. Amid community concerns that what she was doing was “inappropriate” and a “distraction” for the boys, the School Board came to a “compromise”. They voted that Cheryl was allowed to continue using the district facilities to run as long as she stayed away from the boys’ practice.
As a female trailblazer in a male-dominated sport, Cheryl faced discrimination and ignorance. Not necessarily from fellow runners, but from the public in general. However, she did not let her desire to run and compete be diverted by the absence of a dedicated program, lack of athletic gear for women, or even being pelted with cans and bottles from passing motorists as she ran.
Her perseverance paid off and Cheryl was awarded one of the first scholarships given to a female athlete in the United States. Indiana State University had found a way to work around the fact that athletic scholarships for female athletes did not actually exist at the time. They provided Cheryl a scholarship earmarked for a student with “special talents” and identified her “talent” as running. While the scholarship allowed Cheryl to attend college and run, there were no actual women’s collegiate cross country teams for her to race. In order to compete she had to go against local high school boys at their meets. Cheryl never finished less than third despite the fact that she was considered an unofficial entrant and had to give the boys a head start over concerns of embarrassing them.
As athletes like Cheryl began to expand the scope of what was viewed as “normal” for females in sport, additional competition opportunities began to open up. Starting in 1968 Cheryl qualified for the World Cross Country Championships, which she would do five times. In 1969 Cheryl led her 4 member ISU track team to second place in the Division of Girl’s and Women’s Sports very first collegiate track and field completion. In 1971 Cheryl set the world record at the Western Hemisphere Marathon and set the American record on the track for the 3 mile and 5,000 meter events.
Over time, Cheryl’s accomplishments continued to grow off the track as well. In 1985 Cheryl designed and patented two sports bras, setting up sourcing and distribution. This effort provided a new generation of female athletes access to better training apparel than she had as a young runner. Cheryl also took up photography. There were few photographs of her accomplishments and she didn’t want that to be the case for her own daughters. In 2000 she started PrettySporty.com. She photographs all sports but is best known for her work in track and field and has received the Rich Clarkson Award from the Track and Field Writers Association. In 2016 Cheryl was selected by Boston Marathon winner and editor of Runner’s World, Amby Burfoot for his first book, First Ladies of Running: 22 inspiring profiles of the rebels, rule breakers, and visionaries who changed the sport forever.
Cheryl continues to inspire, motivate and advocate for female runners everywhere. There is no doubt that female competitors, including her own daughter, Shalane Flanagan- 2008 Olympic silver medal winner and 2017 Women’s New York City Marathon winner, have benefited from Cheryl’s perseverance to compete.
It is an honor that Cheryl started her ground breaking journey on the North Central track, and it is only appropriate that her efforts to improve the opportunities for female athletes would earn a spot for her story to hang on North Central’s walls.
John Abrams ‘76
Dr. John Abrams embraced his time in Washington Township Schools by taking advantage of the extensive opportunities offered to him. He relished the diversity North Central provided not only in student make-up but in class options and experiences. As a student he flourished with the chance to build upon his interests of math, science and Hebrew and excelled easily in these favored subjects. However, John also credits North Central with providing him and other student’s alternate opportunities to approach less favored studies, like English for him, through programs like Learning Unlimited. All of these opportunities and lessons became contributing factors to John’s success.
As noted in a paper that he wrote while at Westlane, John knew early on that he wanted to be a physician. His journey to achieve that goal took him to Indiana University where he graduated with highest distinction and carried through Indiana University Medical School where he also graduated with high distinction.
By all accounts John has found success in his professional realm. This is easily noted by such distinctions as being recognized one of the best physicians in the country for ophthalmic surgery by The Best Doctors in America. Being voted by physician peers in Indianapolis Monthly’s “Top Doc” in general ophthalmology and cataract surgery every ranking year since 1998. Receiving the Indianapolis Business Journal’s “40 under 40” award for outstanding accomplishments at a young age. As well as having authored countless articles and presented to numerous professionals around the country.
However his work in philanthropy should be counted as equally successful. “Early on, I saw my mother work in the community,” John notes. “I saw my father volunteer in different areas. It’s something we grew up with called Tikkun Olam, which is Hebrew for ‘repair the world.’ It is our obligation and job to make the world a better place.” And making it better is something he attempts to achieve through his work with Prevent Blindness of Indiana, Project Health, the American Academy of Ophthalmology and various other organizations that provide eye care for those less fortunate. But John’s service to others extends beyond just the world of eye care. Dr. Abrams finds great joy in rewarding and encourage students who show a strong work ethic and embrace educational opportunities.
John learned a valuable lesson from a Holocaust survivor that he strives to pass along to students today. “You have got to get as much education as you can. The one thing no one can take from you is what’s in your brain. It’s your knowledge. They can take everything else, your possessions, or even your life, but they can’t take what’s in your head. That’s the most valuable commodity you can have.” Every year Dr. Abrams partners with the Indiana Pacers to encourage these attributes. He awards area middle school students with the “Abrams Academic Achievement Award” to recognize their academic and leadership performance in school. Students receive Pacer tickets, recognition on the court during half time, a certificate of achievement, and a laptop computer furnished by Dr. Abrams.
Many of those recognized over the years with this award have been students from Washington Township schools. This, however, is not the only full circle philanthropy Dr. Abrams has had with his educational roots. In 7th grade, he turned his leather craft club skills into a leather business. The memory of that experience while at Westlane inspired a current day initiative to create support for budding entrepreneurs at North Central. The goal of his Panther Pen club is to connect students who have ideas and drive to the business knowledge and resources that could aid in their success. John reached out to other North Central Alumni who have found success in various areas with the intent of connecting their knowledge and potential funding sources to this next generation of Panther graduates.
Dr. Abrams works hard to foster opportunities for success as well as bestow benefits of hard work and giving back to others. It is an honor to be able to recognize him with induction to the North Central Hall of Fame for his success, hard work, and all he has given back to the community.