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 112 members, thanks to the inductees from 2020…
Jenni Berebitsky ‘94
The Advancement Center is so proud to posthumously induct Jenni Berebitsky into the North Central Hall of Fame. Jenni graduated from North Central High School in ’94 and brought laughter, light, and love to all who knew her.
Jenni was drawn to the world of naturopathy–wanting to help people bridge the best of conventional health care with the best of traditional natural medicine. Just two months after she completed her residency at the National University of Natural Medicine, Jenni was faced with a devastating diagnosis–amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS or “Lou Gehrig’s” disease). At the time, her son, Philip, was only 15 months old, and she had been married to her husband, Jeff, for three years. The doctors gave Jenni 18-24 months to live.
Jenni refused to let the doctor’s prognosis define her future and went on to live 10-1/2 years. She didn’t let ALS stand in the way of living a full life–on her terms. She went kayaking with whales, participated twice in a triathlon and won the wheelchair division, ran her household, and even had a thriving medical practice until her illness made it too difficult to manage. Throughout her journey with ALS, as her movement became more limited, Jenni continuously allowed herself to be vulnerable and share her deepest thoughts and fears in order to educate and help others understand what it is like to live with ALS.
She boldly shared her personal journey with ALS in her book *“ALS Saved My Life…until it didn’t” and the award-winning documentary “Grateful: The Jenni Berebitsky Story.” Both her book and the film embody Jenni’s sharp sense of humor, grit, and self-awareness as she examines what happens when life does not go according to plan and, amazingly enough, the gratitude and zest for life she found as a result of her illness. In an interview with The IndyStar, Jenni’s mother, Joyce Kleinman said, “If she had three wishes, she obviously would wish she never had ALS, but she also didn’t want to lose everything she had learned from ALS.” It is notable that she completed both of these impactful projects in the final year of her life–selflessly giving her all to empower others up until the very end.
Jenni, we are so humbled and proud to welcome you into the North Central High School Hall of Fame. Thank you for sharing your story and light with the world. Your journey will continue to inspire and change lives for generations to come.
*If you are interested in purchasing Jenni’s book or learning more about her film, please click here. *
Jake Query ‘91
The Advancement Center is pleased to announce Jake Query as one of the 2020 North Central Hall of Fame inductees. Jake is a graduate from the Class of ’91 who fervently serves his community and broadcasts his love for North Central and his hometown of Indianapolis every chance he gets. For Jake, every day is an opportunity to forge new connections with people whose perspectives might be different than his own. He fondly calls this outlook “squeezing the juice out of life” and, for him, this can take the form of giving a stranger a ride home on Christmas Eve, bringing a surprise gift to an Indy 500 fan’s 70th birthday, or creating a GoFundMe page for a rescued dog. When Jake sees a need in his community, he uses all of his resources to fill that need.
Jake celebrates the “diversity of education” he experienced during his formative years at North Central. Though he is grateful for the ample opportunities he found to dive into the world of TV/Radio at NC, giving him the building blocks for his future career in broadcasting, he was most impacted by the diversity of his peers. Jake reflects, “I went to school with peers of all background, all upbringings. They may have looked different, prayed differently, celebrated differently, or loved differently. But to me, they were just Panthers. That instilled in me a comfort and compassion that I have carried with me as an adult.”
After graduation, Jake carried this spirit of compassion with him into the world of sports radio and broadcasting. In 2018, his drive-time sports show “Query & Schultz” was recognized by iHeart Media as the “On-Air Talent of the Year.” He was also voted “Indy’s Top Radio Personality” while hosting “The Morning News” on WIBC and spent time as a sports anchor and reporter for WRTV-6. Not only did Jake find success as a beloved radio personality, but he also had the honor of being an announcer for the Indy 500 from 2007-2019.
After these many successes, tragedy struck in the fall of 2020 when Jake suffered a massive heart attack. He underwent emergency surgery at Community Heart and Vascular Hospital, performed by cardiologist Dr. Benjamin Maatman. Now many folks, after experiencing such a life-changing event, might be tempted to let fear engulf them and have a hard time moving forward, but not Jake. He took this particular life event and used it as a springboard to bring awareness to heart health and fitness—sharing his story on social media and with numerous news outlets. Jake even decided to move ahead with his Mini Marathon training, having not missed a single race in 13 years. Except this time, when he crossed the finish line in the spring of 2021, he had Dr. Maatman, who has saved his life the previous fall, by his side.
Jake is the embodiment of Panther Pride—sharing his spirit of service and compassion with our local community and beyond. Whether he’s sitting down to talk to someone who looks like they’re having a bad day or partnering with Wheeler Mission to provide a holiday meal, he always leads by example and encourages others to get involved as well.
When asked what advice he would give to future Panthers, Jake responded, “You’re too young to realize it now, but life is accentuated by that which makes us different. You have a unique access to all that diversity. Magnetize to those who offer a perspective different than yours.” May all Panthers hear Jake’s call to soak in the very unique place that is North Central, the diverse student body and opportunities it holds, and then go out and make a difference—“squeezing the juice out of life”—as Jake has done.