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Celebrate the season of love with our 2022 Panther Partners!

Panther Partners celebrates North Central alumni who met in high school and developed a love that has endured the test of time! This year we add four more couples to our lineup. To see more Panther Partners, check out the couples featured in 20162017, 20182019 2020, and 2021. And, for those of you still happily married after knowing your soul mate back in high school, make sure to let us know! We are always looking to connect with Panther Partners and learn their love stories! Email us yours at [email protected]

Shak and Kiara (Burden) Middlebrook ‘12

Shak and Kiara Middlebrook’s love story is one of chance. Both of these Panthers had planned to attend different high schools, however fate intervened, and they both ended up at North Central. Love was in the air from day one of Freshman year when these two first met in World History class. Although, their love connection didn’t begin until Sophomore year because Shak had a girlfriend at the time. Still, he recalls seeing Kiara’s beautiful smile when she walked into the classroom. “I knew I had to make her laugh, so I cracked a joke, and our friendship began.”   Their first date was at Studio Movie Grill, and while they don’t remember the movie they saw, sparks flew, and the two officially started dating. In fact, one of their favorite moments at North Central was attending prom together.   Both have fond memories of attending North Central and shared how much they enjoyed the opportunities to explore their passions. For Shak, it was football and weight lifting that gave him an outlet and focus. His face lights up as he talks about the Friday night Football games with the big crowd and bright lights, and he actually still holds the weight lifting record at North Central. For Kiara, Rugby and Mrs. Haggert’s dance team is where she found her joy and made long-lasting friendships. Even as the couple graduated and attended separate colleges, Kiara at Indiana University and Shak at the University of Indianapolis, they stayed together, and Shak eventually transferred to Indiana University. At IU, Kiara joined Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated and danced with IU Essence. She was also involved with Black Student Union, Nu Beta Lambda (a Black business fraternity), and graduated with a degree in Business Management from the Kelly School of Business. Shak became part of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Incorporated. He was involved in Black Student Union and worked the front desk at Teter Quad. Shak will be finishing up his degree in Organizational Leadership this year from the University of Memphis.  Today, Shak works at FedEx, and Kiara is a Salesforce Recruiter. The Middlebrooks have been married for five years. They currently live in the Indianapolis area with their two children where they look forward to attending football games this fall under the Friday night lights!

Jesus ‘12 and Marlene ‘12 (Gil) Salinas 

Jesus and Marlene Salinas’ love story began at St. Monica Catholic Church on December 11, 2008. They were both volunteering at church and Marlene needed some help moving items, so she approached a group of people that included Jesus. Marlene recalls Jesus being the most helpful of the whole group and that really impressed her. Jesus recalls Marlene being beautiful, extroverted, and confident.   At this point, neither one of them realized that they both attended North Central, but fate intervened the very next day when the pair bumped into each other during a passing period. Jesus saw an opportunity to ask Marlene to the Winter Ball. She said yes, they had their first date there and have been together ever since.  In high school, both Marlene and Jesus were extremely busy with part-time jobs and extracurricular activities, but have many fond memories of their time at North Central. Jesus’s favorite times included soccer practice and spending his afternoons with Marlene. Marlene loved the last week of senior year, where she had fun planning events and making sure the last day went out with a boom. Beyond the fun they had, the Salinas are thankful for their time at North Central and the impact it has had on their lives since graduation. Jesus shared, “The academics and the cultural awareness that North Central provided truly helped shape my professional career.” Marlene said, “NC did a great job preparing me for what the real world looks like and is. It prepared me academically, especially when it came to the English and Math courses I had to take in college.” After North Central, the two headed off to different colleges but maintained their relationship. Marlene earned a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice and Sociology from IU Bloomington and now works as a Senior Immigration Case Manager at a local law firm. Jesus headed to Ball State University, where he graduated from the Ball State Nursing program. However, after a few years, he decided it was time for a chance and now works as a Warehouse Management Systems (WMS) Manager for a large global systems integrator. Jesus and Marlene Salinas have been married for eight years and live in the Indianapolis area with their two children. In addition to their work schedules, they are still very involved at St. Monica Catholic Church and enjoy watching their children participate in dance and soccer.

Zach ‘02 and Claire ‘01 (Wood) Tempel

Zach and Clair Tempel’s love story began in 1999 during a World History class when Zach was just a Freshman and Claire was a Sophomore. They both had crushes on one another, but neither had the courage to start a conversation. All that changed a few semesters later when Zach, then a Junior, and Claire, a Senior, both participated in a charity walk for diabetes together. Then they happened to run into each other at the library, and on December 16, 2000, Zach finally asked Claire out on the date. The rest was history. Their first date was at the beloved Steak ‘n Shake where Claire ordered a Diet Coke and Zach got two full steak burger meals. She recalls Zach was dressed in Abercrombie parachute pants, which were all the rage in the early 2000s. After dinner, they headed to Clearwater Cinema in Zach’s 1994 Jeep Wrangler to catch a movie, Vertical Limit. Zach still has the ticket stub to this day! Zach and Claire both have fond memories of their time at North Central. Claire describes being on the swim team as a highlight. She loved the time in and out of the pool with her swim team. And of course, meeting Zach was a top memory! For Zach, his memories as a PantherQuest counselor are top of the list. He loved the opportunity it gave him to engage with younger students from diverse backgrounds and share what makes North Central such a special place.  He describes the camaraderie that was built as a preview of the real world. “It didn’t matter what sport or club you were involved in, we all had the common thread of being a Panther to unite us.”  Both Zach and Claire also shared that the discipline and resilience they used to succeed at North Central, both academically and in athletics, helped them to build the foundation they needed to be successful adults. As they look back on those ‘stressors’ they had as teenagers and how they were taught to face them, they believe it was a great warm-up to the real-world challenges adults can face today.   After graduating from North Central, Claire went on to Miami of Ohio University and Zach followed a year later.  Zach completed medical school at Indiana University and Claire earned a doctorate in audiology from Ball State. The pair then moved to Pittsburgh where Claire worked as an audiologist and Zach completed his neurological surgery program at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center as well as a fellowship in complex spinal reconstruction and minimally invasive spine surgery.   From there, the couple moved to Cincinnati where Zach became the attending neurosurgeon at Mayfield Clinic. He currently lectures around the country and has authored over fifty papers in peer-reviewed journals and more than twenty book chapters. He also invented a novel technique for treating scoliosis that was recently published.   Meanwhile, Claire has stayed busy as well, shifting her focus to raising their two children. Zach affectionately calls her the CEO/CFO of the household. Claire has also found joy in volunteering with an organization called, Give Like a Mother (GLAM). It is a Cincinnati-based non-profit organization that provides seasonally appropriate and stylish outfits for children in need. GLAM also works closely with food banks and counseling services because they know looking good and feeling confident is only a portion of the package children need to succeed.  The Tempels were married in June 2008 and just celebrated thirteen years of marriage. They currently live in Cincinnati with their children.

Ryan ‘03 and Amanda ‘04 (Ranger) Turner

Ryan and Amanda (Mandy) Turner’s love story began in Health class at North Central. Ryan was a year older than Mandy and she thought he was attractive but was intimidated by his popularity. Ryan remembers Mandy being attractive as well, and quiet. Their first date was to see a movie at United Artists with a group of friends, and then over to the classic North Central date night spot, Steak ‘n Shake.   The Turners are both thankful for their time as Panthers! Mandy started at North Central her Sophomore year and didn’t know a lot of people. Ryan on the other hand attended North Central his Freshman year, so he was well acquainted with the school and his classmates. She likes to call him Mr. Popular!   While at North Central, one of their favorite memories was spending time in the student center before school. They loved the laughter that filled the hallway and the community that was built in that space.  While Mandy was at North Central, she took advantage of the J. Everett Light Career Center and earned a dental assistant certification. That certificate has served Mandy well. When she graduated from North Central, she jumped right into her career in the dental field. She is currently a manager of operations at Indianapolis Dental Designs. Ryan has a passion for the arts, and he owns his own business called, Art is My Heart. He also works as a Pepsi Merchandiser.  In reminiscing about their time at North Central, they both agree, “North Central helped us gain knowledge and skills to help in our careers and life in general.” The Turners have now been together for over twenty years and live in the Indianapolis area with their three children.