Neal, a 19-year old home-schooled student, is currently enrolled in the GED program at the Mason County Career Center, where she will soon earn her certificate.
“It’s hard,” Neal stated. “I began this past fall and math is still difficult for me to pass.”
Having been home-schooled since the eighth grade by her parents David and Kelly Neal, she reflects on her years spent at home, learning the same subjects as her peers enrolled in public schools.
“I really enjoy the freedom of being able to help plan the lessons,” Neal stated. “It’s nice because you don’t always have to be in a classroom setting.”
Kelly Neal added that the two of them often go to museums and local festivals for field trips and educational purposes. And for physical education, Neal takes walks at the park or rollerblades at the Robert C. Byrd Locks and Dam.
“For the first year, we borrowed textbooks from the Mason County Board of Education office,” Kelly Neal said. “That way she could follow along with her sister, Amanda.”
Her mother said that for the second year of her daughter’s home-schooling, they decided to take a different route with a Christian Home-school Program.
“The problem with that program is that the workbooks did not teach SAT testing skills, and Amee needs to take those at the end of each year,” Kelly Neal said.
So the best decision for the Neals was to go back to the textbooks.
The family keeps all of her schoolwork organized by using a planner to keep track of lessons.
“There really is no set schedule,” Kelly Neal said. “We just work on whatever subject she needs to focus on.”
And while community service is not part of Neal’s requirements with the home-school program, she is happy to volunteer her time.
While she is taking a break for the summer and enjoying time with her friends before they head off to college, Neal is doing what she loves the most, drawing and creating art.
This 19-year old is a published illustrator, having won a conservation poster contest at the district level.
“When I won the county level for this poster contest, I was very proud,” Neal said. “Then I was approached to have my work published, and that is now my greatest accomplishment.”
Her drawing is showcased in the conservation book that is distributed to students throughout the state. Neal also is currently discussing with the organization about working on upcoming projects with them, including illustrating their future books.
Neal’s other accomplishments include a collection of ribbons she has received for her artwork. She estimated that she has about 37 blue ribbons, six red and six white ribbons. She also has received ‘Best of Show’ six times at several different events in the area, including the Mason County Fair.
Several other art shows that Neal has been involved in includes the Battle Days Art Show, the Riverboat Art Show at the Point Pleasant River Museum, and Youth Art in the Park, sponsored by the French Art Colony in Gallipolis, Ohio.
Neal stated that she is always looking for shows to enter her drawings depicting her favorite subject, Mango-style drawings. She stated that she also enters crafts at the fair and really enjoys drawing on boxes, that also are entered in contests.
Starting out with a pencil, her materials now consist mostly of Sharpie’s, along with colored pencils. Neal also likes using glitter pens on some projects.
“All I ever wanted to do when I was little was draw,” Neal said. “And that is still what I enjoy most.”
With her winnings, Neal uses the money she receives to buy more art supplies. She says she likes using a lot of colors and looking at pictures to get inspirations for body positions of the characters that she creates on paper.
Her mother said that Amee could just look at a picture and draw what she saw, without tracing.
“I was so proud of Amee in preschool,” Kelly Neal said. “She drew her first pictures of the cross.”
A lifetime member of the Barton Chapel Church, Neal enjoys seeing and spending time with her friends. And even though she doesn’t attend class with them, Neal has had the opportunity to experience her first dance, Hannan High School’s prom, which she attended this year with her friend, Derick Flora.
“I was so happy when I got the call to be asked to prom,” she said. “I was afraid I would miss it like I have missed certain things about high school, such as theatre.”
Neal also attended the HHS graduation to see her friends receive their diplomas, as well as Point Pleasant High School’s graduation, where she cheered on her sister Amanda.
Amee has three sisters: Emalea, Amanda and Kelle Ann, who also are all involved in the arts somehow or other. Emalea is the eldest sibling and attends the University of Rio Grande. Neal said that her sister learns different techniques at college and often comes home to teach her and her other sisters.
Neal’s hobbies include collecting charms and wearing them all at once, and collecting fortune cookies.
“I have nearly 1,000 fortunes collected,” Neal said. “My friends and family give me their fortunes and I write them down in my book. I would like to perhaps be in the Guinness Book of World Records for having the most fortunes collected.”
Neal is currently getting ready for upcoming contents, as well as thinking about her future.
“I haven’t decided about where I want to go, but I would really love to become a writer/illustrator,” Neal said.