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Fine Arts Hall of Fame

The Steward School
Ceremony honors creative Spartans

Five outstanding Steward artists, performers, and musicians were lauded at Steward’s Fine Arts Hall of Fame ceremony, which took place on January 26 in the Lora M. Robins Theatre in the Cramer Center for the Arts. Alumni, former and current faculty and staff members, and family and friends attended the celebration. The Fine Arts Hall of Fame, launched in 2019, recognizes members of the community who have proven exceptionally influential in the arts.

Congratulations to Madison Ellis Ellington ’09, Thomas J. Galvin III ’91, Dr. Jennifer (Jenny) McComas ’95, Monica Kallman Moehring ’95, and Katie Perkins O’Neill ’05, whose artistic accomplishments at Steward and beyond are truly inspiring. 

Visual Arts Chair Lynn Zinder and Performing Arts Chair Craig Smith welcomed guests to the gathering. Following are highlights about each honoree, plus excerpts of the comments shared at the event:

Madison Ellis Ellington ’09, who was introduced by Associate Director of Admissions Beth Farmer-Smith ’09:

  • has been a dedicated dancer since her years at Steward
  • joined a dance troupe in college and served as a choreographer 
  • is the proud owner and studio director of West End Academy of Dance 

Ms. Farmer-Smith, who noted her lifelong friendship with Ms. Ellington, said, “A constant in Madison's life has always been dance. I remember watching her at recitals, at Steward's talent shows, and at our School dances. Watching her dance is like watching a piece of artwork in motion.” She also lauded Ms. Ellington’s leadership skills and business acumen. 

Ms. Ellington told the audience, “It's a really, really great feeling to know that my efforts and work in the performing arts space are being recognized by my alma mater. To have the support of the Steward community is very important to me.” 

Thomas Galvin ’91, who was introduced by retired Steward Art Teacher Rugene Paulette:

  • was involved in art, music, and theatre at Steward
  • created the original Spartan logo, which was used for years and can be seen above the entrance to the Athletic Center
  • pursued his dream job at Walt Disney World, where he worked for 13 years in a variety of creative roles
  • serves as creative director at Chilton SignWorks in Florida

Ms. Paulette recalled that, as a student at Steward, Mr. Galvin “was never afraid to put himself out there. Thomas would just enthusiastically plunge into anything asked of him, or better yet, into an idea he wanted to try out. There is nobody else like Thomas. He is one of a kind.” 

Mr. Galvin shared his gratitude for Steward’s supportive, nurturing environment. He said, “If it weren't for Rugene Paulette, I would've never discovered the confidence to become an artist, never had the confidence to put my work out there, be creative, and receive constructive criticism that would make me a better artist.”

Dr. Jennifer (Jenny) McComas ’95 was unable to attend the ceremony due to inclement weather. Dr. McComas, who was introduced by Rugene Paulette

  • was deeply involved in the fine and performing arts at Steward
  • has served as curator of Western Art After 1800 at Indiana University’s Eskenazi Museum of Art and adjunct faculty member with the university’s Jewish Studies Program
  • is the author of the book “Swing Landscape: Stuart Davis and the Modernist Mural”

Ms. Paulette spoke fondly of Dr. McComas. “I remember her very detailed and colorful renderings of Russian architecture that she put so much time and effort into,” she said. “Clearly, she had found an interest that was becoming very important to her. I'm so pleased The Steward School selected Jenny as a recipient of this award.”

Ms. Zinder read a statement from Dr. McComas, which said, in part, “I am deeply gratified to receive this honor from The Steward School, where I spent three very formative years delving deeply into the visual and performing arts. The caring attitude and mentorship provided by [my teachers] were absolutely critical to the path I chose to follow.”

Monica Kallman Moehring ’95, who was introduced by Coldon Martin ’07:

  • is a former Steward theatre teacher 
  • is a writer, musician, actor, and filmmaker
  • has written film festival award-winning screenplays

Mr. Martin spoke of his admiration for Ms. Moehring: “She's the best kind of teacher, the best kind of adult … because she has never once talked down to a child no matter their age,” he said. “She believes that empowerment doesn't come from being coddled, but rather by being emboldened, being held accountable, and above all, being vulnerable. Instead of simply instructing, Monica inspires.”

Ms. Moehring said, “I have had the distinct pleasure of being a student and an educator at The Steward School. Steward prepared me to have the confidence to be an artist. I had teachers that didn't treat the electives like electives. Music and chorus and theatre weren’t my electives, they were what I wanted to do. And to have grownups take that as seriously as I did was huge for me.” 

Katie Perkins O’Neill ’05, who was introduced by retired Music Teacher Bonnie Anderson:

  • performed in numerous Steward choral and theatre productions
  • is a music educator at Ravenscroft School in Raleigh, NC, and works with the Raleigh Youth Choir as conductor of the Acorn Choir 
  • has studied and performed music abroad 

Ms. Anderson said, “I knew back in the day that Katie … was destined to be an educator one day.” Of Ms. O’Neill’s roles as a music teacher and choir director and her other contributions to the field of music education, Ms. Anderson said, “I am so proud of the educator and colleague my former student has become.”

Ms. O’Neill said, “Thank you to the teachers, staff, administrators, and coaches at Steward.” Reflecting on what it’s like to see her former students’ accomplishments, she said, “I'm now getting the opportunity to see [them] choose a music career path of their very own, receive their own recognitions, go to college, get married, and have children. I've learned it is a wonderful feeling when you see someone you've taught succeed in life.”

After Head of School Dan Frank gave closing comments, inductees had an opportunity to enjoy refreshments, catch up with one another, and celebrate their achievements with family and friends. 

View the Steward Snaps from the Fine Arts Hall of Fame ceremony.

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