PAVA Hall of Fame Luncheon & Musical Alumni Night

Notre Dame Regional High School is proud to announce the newest inductees into the Performing & Visual Arts Hall of Fame! Cynthia R. King and Jerry Grim will be inducted into the 2022 Hall of Fame class, and Cate Devaney (’04), Becki Essner (‘76) and Blake Palmer (’08) will be formally inducted into the 2020 Hall of Fame class. These talented Notre Dame teachers and alumni will be honored at the PAVA Hall of Fame luncheon on April 9 at Notre Dame Regional High School.

Following the Hall of Fame luncheon, PAVA Hall of Fame members and all Notre Dame alumni are invited to enjoy this year’s musical production of “Once Upon A Mattress.” The Saturday, April 9, performance will be Alumni Night, and all alumni are welcome to celebrate Miss King’s 50th and final musical! Tickets will go on sale on March 7.

Cate Devaney (’04) is a director and writer based out of Los Angeles, California. Her career includes working in television and film on projects like Mercy, Men in Black 3, and Doctor Strange in New York City and Los Angeles. She directed her first feature film in 2019, The Mad Hatter. Devaney got her start in musical theatre at Notre Dame. She mainly worked on crew until her senior year, when she was cast in a supporting role. Her Notre Dame productions included Oklahoma; Hello Dolly!; West Side Story; and Crazy For You. She has a degree from Mizzou in pre-architecture and environmental studies. Congratulations, Cate!

Blake Palmer is a 2008 graduate of Notre Dame Regional High School. At his time at Notre Dame, Palmer performed in and worked on set construction for Damn Yankees; Mousetrap; My Fair Lady; God’s Favorite; and The Pajama Game. Upon graduation, Palmer attended Missouri State University where he earned a degree in stage management. While at MSU, he worked as a sound board operator, Tent Theatre and stage manager for Stagedoor Manor. Palmer then attended New York University (NYU) and earned a Master of Fine Arts in Set and Costume Design. Following his graduation from NYU, some of Palmer’s notable shows working in set and costume design include Tristan und Isolde in Germany; Don Giovanni in London; Così fan tutte in San Francisco; M. Butterfly on Broadway; Der Drang in Munich; and West Side Story in New York City. Congratulations, Blake!

Becki Essner’s love of performing & visual arts began her freshman year at Notre Dame when she performed in Fiddler on the Roof. She spent the next three years of high school working on set construction and technical crews in Notre Dame productions. After graduating from Notre Dame in 1976, Essner received a degree in education from Southeast Missouri State University and taught in the public-school system. She once again found herself involved in Notre Dame musicals when her son enrolled in 1999. She began helping in any way she could, including supervising students at night. Essner was then asked to teach at Notre Dame, and began instructing visual arts in the fall of 2003. In 2004, she established Notre Dame’s chapter of the National Art Honor Society (NAHS). Through the years, Essner also taught Junior Composition, English II and developed a Study Skills program, while always devoting time to working with the spring musical. Congratulations, Mrs. Essner!

Jerry Grim has had a storied career at Notre Dame Regional High School. Grim spent 33 years as an art teacher and coach, retiring in 2011. Grim is widely known for his 25 years spent as Notre Dame’s Girls Basketball coach, while also coaching softball and golf for several years, but his impact on Notre Dame’s performing and visual arts is immense. Grim taught thousands of students in art classes through the years, and his art is still prevalent throughout the school. He designed most of the musical posters that hang in the Notre Dame lobby, the bulldog painted in the gym is Grim’s work, and the Saint Francis mural in Drury Hall is his creation. The Cross of Hope, a project by the class of 1979 and facilitated by Grim, still serves Notre Dame during Lent. Grim’s contributions to visual arts at Notre Dame is immeasurable. Congratulations, Mr. Grim!

Cynthia R. King has spent 50 years dedicated to the students of Notre Dame. She has taught Communication Arts, Dramatics, Stagecraft and acting classes. For the past 50 years, she has been responsible for all aspects of production of the fall play and spring musical; including, directing, designing, and working with students in all technical areas. Miss King has touched countless lives of students in the performing and visual arts from former students acting on Broadway to inspiring many to follow in her footsteps of academia. Miss King has left a lasting legacy at Notre Dame in performing arts at Notre Dame. This will be Miss King’s final musical with Notre Dame, as she has announced her retirement. Congratulations, Miss King!

For more information about PAVA Hall of Fame and the Musical Alumni Night, contact Deana Pecord at