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Podcast | 14 Minutes

Tips for Succeeding as a Veritas Student | VSA Student Jael Hough

Marlin Detweiler Written by Marlin Detweiler
Tips for Succeeding as a Veritas Student | VSA Student Jael Hough

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Meet Jael Hough, a talented young artist and 10th-grade student at Veritas Scholars Academy. Discover how classical education has inspired and impacted her art, where she hopes to go in the future, and what advice she has for students who are taking on a rigorous education.

Episode Transcription

Note: This transcription may vary from the words used in the original episode for better readability.



Marlin Detweiler:

Welcome again to another episode of Veritas Vox, the voice of classical Christian education. Today we have with us one of our current students. Welcome, Jael Hough to Veritas!

Jael Hough:

Hey, thanks for having me.

Marlin Detweiler:

You bet. Jael’s made quite a name for herself because of, some of the art that she's done related to Omnibus, our great books curriculum and other things. But before we get into the things, Jael, tell us a little bit about yourself and your family.

Jael Hough:

Okay. So I'm going to start with my family. We're a very, very big family. We get the kind of big family looks when we're traveling.

Marlin Detweiler:

How many are there?

Jael Hough:

There's, six of us kids. And with mom and dad, that's, a lot. I know mom sometimes gets asked sometimes, like, “Are those all your kids?”

Marlin Detweiler:

What's the age range?

Jael Hough:

So the oldest is, 18 now, and the youngest, even I have trouble remembering. I think Jezreel is, 12.

Marlin Detweiler:

Well, okay. And you're a, you're currently a sophomore in 10th grade at Veritas Scholars Academy.

Jael Hough:

Yep. So, for me, I'm an artist. Occasionally I write some books, but I haven't really had time to do that. And I don't have a lot of time for very many hobbies. So I guess for the time being, I'm just a student, primarily.

Marlin Detweiler:

Well, that's your full-time job, so to speak. And that's great. How many years have you been using Veritas curriculum or taking online classes?

Jael Hough:

So I think it's about four years now.

Marlin Detweiler:

Four years. Okay. Very good. Tell us a little bit about your art. What inspires you and talk about especially how it connects to what you're studying.

Jael Hough:

So the art that I do for school and a lot of the art that I do for fun, it's actually what we read in school that inspires me. So I want to do it. Sometimes I'll do art of maybe Achilles or, Odysseus from the Odyssey. I know I've done art like that before, but I like getting my source material from what we study, because it's so much more unique than what everybody else is doing that I see.

So that's kind of my inspiration. Whatever the books that we're reading in class or any other classical works that I just happen to pick up, I don't know why, but they're a lot better at inspiring me than your average fantasy novel.

Marlin Detweiler:

Yeah. it's, it's, illustrated. But what do they call the books of, like, they become very popular. basically books that the text is built into a cartoon drawing.

Jael Hough:

Oh, you mean graphic novels?

Marlin Detweiler:

Graphic novels. It really the artwork that I've seen of yours looks a lot like the graphic novels of today. Is that something that you've emulated?

Jael Hough:

I do like drawing comics, but that one that you saw was probably the project that we were supposed to submit itself.

Marlin Detweiler:

Okay. So that was actually a school project. Yeah. No wonder I saw that.

Jael Hough:

It is fun to do, and I do draw in graphic novel format sometimes when I'm feeling like it.

Marlin Detweiler:

Yeah. What other kinds of ways do you put your talents in art to create?

Jael Hough:

So whenever I write, like, for school projects or for fun, I like to draw illustrations to go along with it. Because where my writing lacks, because I know I'm not like, the perfect writer. The art really makes it stand out more. Like it can make up for what I'm lacking in, writing skills.

Marlin Detweiler:

So are you known for turning in, written assignments to have images in it?

Jael Hough:

Oh, yeah. I love doing that!

Marlin Detweiler:

I think that's really cool. I can honestly say I have never seen or submitted – wouldn't want my artwork anyway – a writing assignment that somebody created artwork and put in with it. How did the teachers respond to that? That's because I imagine that's a rare occasion.

Jael Hough:

Yeah. So they like it, I hope!

Marlin Detweiler:

And sure, they do.

Jael Hough:

Yeah, I do. I get comments on my submissions all the time saying how they appreciated the art. So that's fun.

Marlin Detweiler:

Yeah. That is, I think that's something that other people with similar talents, hopefully they will, hear this and think to do that themselves because I think that would be really cool. Do you do any artwork for commercial purposes or fo any purposes that might, you know, framed up in the house, that kind of thing? Anything?

Jael Hough:

No, the last time my art got put up in the house is on the fridge as a little kid. But I'm not doing anything commercial right now. But I've been thinking about it because, I've heard a lot that I could make money off of my art and, you know, as somebody who's going to be in college in a few years, the mention of money just, you know, my ears perked up.

Marlin Detweiler:

Yeah, it would help pay for things. That's great. If you've been a student at Veritas for four years, you've taken a number of Omnibus classes, and I know you've taken a couple composition classes and other things you have learned to handle the workload and continue to develop what's currently a hobby, your art.

I understand it may not always be a hobby, but, I don't know how else to describe it at the moment. What have you learned about how to succeed as a student at Veritas? Considering the fact that the workload is a heavy one?

Jael Hough:

I would say that the most important thing for learning to navigate the VSA is time management. So when you're done with class, the first thing you should be doing is homework, not extra curricular activities. Because if you jump to doing those right away, you'll lose a lot more time and your grades will suffer for it.

Marlin Detweiler:

Okay.

Jael Hough:

And as for, developing my hobby, I have actually found that one of the best ways to do that is to integrate it into my school. That way, I get to do a better job on my homework and my projects, and I get to develop my art. So that's why you'll see me, trying desperately to put art any way I can into my projects. Just because, you know, the teachers can see that I put more effort into it. And it's also a little bit more practice for me.

Marlin Detweiler:

Yeah, yeah. Anytime you can integrate things like that, you have some, efficiencies that can really, provide great benefit. That's good thinking. What are some of your favorite classes at Veritas?

Jael Hough:

So I think right now it has to be Rhetoric I, and I'm taking that with Doctor Southern. So it teaches me to improv when necessary, like, on Wednesday, we just had our last impromptu speeches for the year. That was fun. So it teaches me to kind of be more comfortable in say, settings like this where I have to, or I don't really have as much preparation.

Marlin Detweiler:

Well, good. What other things? How many of your siblings have taken online classes with Veritas?

Jael Hough:

All of them do. All six of us.

Marlin Detweiler:

Well, do you have, tell me about the conversations that you have, among yourselves. And at dinner. How does that help the educational experience?

Jael Hough:

Okay. So, at dinner is when we all discuss what we learned in class that day. So when we're all taking a break, like pausing after eating, that's when somebody will inevitably bring up something that they learned in class that day, and we'll discuss it. And that discussion usually takes a long while. So I know at the beginning of our school, semester or school year, the discussions were always about predestination or something like that.

So, yeah, those discussions went like long into the night. And we still have that habit. So yeah, we learn a lot from those dinner talks.

Marlin Detweiler:

Now, of the six in your family, the six kids, where do you fall in line?

Jael Hough:

I am the second oldest.

Marlin Detweiler:

Second oldest. Okay. And you have, you're the oldest one you said is a brother, and he graduates in the 24-25 school year?

Jael Hough:

Yeah.

Marlin Detweiler:

Then you're, behind him two years or one year?

Jael Hough:

Just one year, yeah.

Marlin Detweiler:

One year. Very cool. Very cool. What do you think if a parent said to you, my child is not a great reader, or my child is not very, much a self-starter. Can they do it? What would you say to them?

Jael Hough:

Sorry. Can you repeat that?

Marlin Detweiler:

If a parent came to you and said, well, you're obviously succeeding. But my child's not a great reader. Doesn't like to do homework. Not much of a self-starter. Any one of those categories, maybe all of them. What would you say to them about, how their child might succeed?

Jael Hough:

Okay, so in my limited knowledge of how the world works, I would probably tell them that the first thing that your child needs to realize is that Veritas is not a school where you can just coast along for the ride. You have to actively try to learn. So it doesn't work if you, the parent, just realized that because you know you probably do.

It has to be your kid that maybe one day they flunk an assignment. Their grade goes down. They start to panic. I don't know if that's the way that they learn that they need to try harder, then I guess so be it. Because this is kind of supposed to prepare you for the real world, and you have to learn to work hard.

Marlin Detweiler:

Yeah. It's, my experience in high school was a lot different than my experience as a businessman. Who, if I didn't do my job, the work that needed to be done just didn't get done. In school that kind of can get covered up sometimes. It doesn't have the same impact of I can’t feed my family and and, pay my mortgage and that sort of thing.

In high school, we don't have those same responsibilities, so we don't feel it the same way. And I think it's really good training, like you're saying, to get ready for the world, so to speak.

Jael Hough:

Yeah.

Marlin Detweiler:

Good. Very good. I'm curious, when you use art for an assignment, what goes on inside you? I understand the fun that a teacher must have in grading an assignment that comes with illustrations. But what does that do to you? What do you do to create that way?

Jael Hough:

So, for the most recent project, we were supposed to write something that had, like, we were supposed to write something on, the Apocrypha, and that had a scene in it where, one of the characters, goes crazy and kills a lot of people. So I was like, okay, I can I can have some fun with this.

So one of the pictures that I drew was, kind of a violent scene, but I tried to put it at a spot where, well, one where it would fit, but also where it would make you visualize the scene a little bit or maybe laugh at it a bit like, wow, good grief. I want to I want the reaction to be, maybe to be, not exactly amused.

More like, I guess I want them to enjoy it. So I would do my best on the art, but I would also, I would want to exaggerate the scene, if you know what I mean. Like where some people might draw somebody's punching another person. I'd go full-on, stabbing them with a sword.

Marlin Detweiler:

Wow. Well, I understand what that does to somebody viewing it, but I'm curious, about how illustrating a scene like that helps you in the learning process.

Jael Hough:

So it helps me visualize it better when I'm planning out the scene. I'll go first to a base sketch to the you're out where everything is going to go, and sometimes I have trouble with it. So what I do is I go back to the book or the source material, and I read it again, but I don't skim it.

I look carefully for little clues as to what the characters might have been doing, what their facial expressions might have been, their posture, things like that. And so it helps me get a better picture of the scene overall than if I had just written about it and went on.

Marlin Detweiler:

Yeah, I remember, I think it was my oldest son. I have four boys. I think that's my oldest one. When he was really getting into reading, commenting, “It's like movies in my head.” Is that something that resonates with you, that as you draw, it helps you, enjoy the words on the page, too?

Jael Hough:

Yeah, definitely. Like drawings help me get the movie in my head on to the page.

Marlin Detweiler:

Yeah. That's great. So what are you planning next? When you finish school, what are you thinking? I realize it's still a few years, and so the thinking may still go several different directions before you have to take a step. But what are you thinking today about what you'll do after high school?

Jael Hough:

So it's surprisingly not something really art related. Because I recognize it can be hard for people to make a lot of money off of that. But what I actually want to do is, be an EMS helicopter pilot. So part of flight dispatch, because you know how some people hate heights? I'm so crazy that I actually like them.

Marlin Detweiler:

I’m actually a pilot. I don't fly helicopters. I fly a little airplane, and I have a little bit of a fear of heights in this sense, if I haven't been at the top of, an observation deck on a tall building, like in New York, or even a 30-story building in a, a second tier market city that has, an office, more than ten stories up.

I'll go up there, and when I stand next to the window, I get a little queasy, but I don't get that with 10,000ft. and it's just it's a completely different feeling. I'm not, I've never studied it. I've never read about it from a psychology standpoint. So would you enjoy, being at the top of a mountain? Or being at the top of a building as well? Or a helicopter?

Jael Hough:

Oh, yeah. Yeah. I would, I'd like that. Like when other people are standing a careful distance away from the edge. I'm out there with some of my other siblings going like, “Wow, look at that view!” And also our family has, we fly a lot. We flew to Scotland just this past spring break, so it's being really high above the ground is nothing new to me.

Marlin Detweiler:

Yeah. I'd be the person standing back a little bit when I see free-hand, free-form climbers on the side of vertical walls and things like that. I just shake my head and wonder how they do that. And high rise construction is another category that's just. I don't understand the kind of people that do it. You'd probably relish that.

Jael Hough:

I don't know!

Marlin Detweiler:

So, being an EMS helicopter pilot, that's pretty cool. That's pretty specific too. And I imagine, there are, a fair amount of jobs. I don't know what the balance is between people who want to do it and people that do, but I would think that would be a good opportunity. How do you expect to continue with your art?

Jael Hough:

So for the time being, I'm just going to continue honing my skills, you know, integrating it into school, practicing, learning how to do things. Maybe when I grow up, I can have, like, a little webcomic, you know, it's like, you know, the comic strips in the newspaper, except it's online and most of them are on this website called, Web Tunes. I don't know if it might be that one, but I know there's a couple of websites.

Marlin Detweiler:

Is Web Tunes a place to put cartoons online? Is that it essentially?

Jael Hough:

Yeah. Essentially it and I could have, like a little side job drawing comics, like comics with story lines and putting them on there for money. I'm not really sure, but yeah, I would like to, when I grow up, to not just drop my art because it's, it's really fun for me now, and I don't want to lose that.

Marlin Detweiler:

Well that's great. Well, Jael, thank you so much for joining us. This has been really fun. It's always fun for me to hear stories of students who have been impacted by the teachers and the curriculum. I don't get much chance to interact with the students, in our program. So thanks for joining us today.

Jael Hough:

Yeah, thanks for having me.

Marlin Detweiler:

Folks, you have been with us for another episode of Veritas Vox, the voice of classical Christian education. Hope to see you next time, too. Bye bye.