Swanton High School students saw firsthand Friday the successes possible for SHS graduates. Students also received advice from the two newest inductees in the Swanton Local Schools Distinguished Alumni Hall of Fame.
Gary Jones and Brenda Hayes-Kumm were inducted on Friday, which included a luncheon, a student assembly, and a ceremony during halftime at the varsity basketball game.
Jones, a 1965 Swanton High School graduate, is an Academy Award nominated costume designer.
“It is really an honor to be chosen. Simply because I think this is a very unique gift, as it were,” Jones said Friday.
Jones, who was nominated for his work on the 1999 film“The Talented Mr. Ripley,” looked back fondly at his youth in Swanton.
“Growing up here continues to be one of the great memories, but also one of the great things in my life, in that, I have been able to go anywhere, do what I needed to do, learn what I needed to learn,” he said.
Jones continued, “The great thing about it is, I learned how to deal with people, I learned how to read and write, I learned that it is okay to try things. And, I’m guessing it’s the same because I have the same vibe from all of you, and also you have a facility here that really seems to encourage your work and your studies, and I know you have a faculty that is very much behind that as well.”
Jones, who has also worked on “Person of Interest,” “The Tick,” “Spider-Man 2,” and “The Princess Diaries,” among other films, told the students those connections with people can be very important.
“If you take anything away from today, I think it is important that you remember that your relationships with people will get you as far as any resume you push the button and send… It’s really fair and good to use any connections you have,” he said.
Hayes-Kumm, a 1986 Swanton graduate, currently serves as a health commissioner in Kansas City, Mo., and has served numerous volunteer organizations.
Like Jones, Hayes-Kumm stressed the importance of working with other people. She said working in groups is one of the favorite parts of her job.
“Have some humility,” she said. “You don’t always have to have all the right answers. Let other people have the answers, too. Watching everyone come together to make an idea happen is the coolest thing.”
Hayes-Kumm, who is the first woman inducted into the Hall of Fame, offered advice to the students about growing from failures.
“You’re going to fail. It’s okay. You will fail… You’re going to have to be okay with it. You have to embrace it,” she said.
She said her time at Swanton, and specifically with the Hoop Tree fundraiser, had a huge impact on her life. Hayes-Kumm told the students she felt giving back to your community is very important.
“That’s what I learned with that program. Coming from Swanton High influenced my life so much that my primary life’s work, starting a foundation, working in the non-profit community in Kansas City, that was driven by that experience here at Swanton High School,” she said.