Roseville Adult School student takes advantage of a second chance

Nick Rule dropped out of high school as a sophomore, but returned to school as a 26 year old
By: Sena Christian, The Press Tribune
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Nick Rule dropped out of high school during his sophomore year. He didn’t get good grades and learning just didn’t appeal to him. He preferred to do something he enjoyed and make some money, so he became a mechanic. “I figured I didn’t need an education,” Rule said. But then, one day, he realized he had reached his peak and decided he didn’t want to work “dead-end jobs” his whole life. “I want more than that,” he said. So the 26-year-old returned to the place where he left off — sophomore year — but this time he attended Roseville Adult School. He completed his coursework in December of 2009 and Rule, now 27, will graduate with 14 classmates today during a ceremony in the theatre at Roseville High School. “I wanted to better my life and try a different route,” Rule said. “I had jobs that didn’t need an education. I wanted to get an education and try a different lifestyle.” Roseville Adult School started in 1921 teaching men who worked for the railroad. The school — part of the Roseville Joint Union High School District — typically serves students between 18 and 35 years old eager to take advantage of a second chance to finish their high school requirements and earn a diploma, said Joyce Lude, director of adult education. Most of the students have overcome adversity to return to the classroom, she said. Rule now attends Sierra College. He devotes himself completely to his education. He doesn’t work, instead choosing to live on a tight budget and go to school full-time. “I enjoy (learning) now,” he said. “It’s not a have-to but a want-to.” Roseville Adult School teacher Monique Johnson said educating people who have chosen to return to school makes her job personally fulfilling. “I get to be a part of seeing people really overcome a lot,” Johnson said. “No one comes to adult school without a history. Sometimes it’s bad choices, sometimes bad luck … I get to work with them, cheerlead them and if they need it, push them a little harder.” Johnson teaches high-school completion classes covering all subjects. Many of her students are 12th graders who need extra credits to graduate. She said a large percentage of students need help passing high school exit exams. Students complete their education on a class-by-class basis to meet individual credit requirements. Johnson just finished her 10th year teaching at the school. Before that, she worked as a paralegal. “To tell the truth, if I won the lottery tomorrow, I’d show back up (at Roseville Adult School),” she said. “I love it.” Johnson had Rule as a student last year and is proud that he’s attending community college. “Nick is a warm, funny guy who is serious about what he wants to do with his future,” she said. “He’s really goal-oriented and focused.” That future includes transferring to UC Berkeley and earning his bachelor’s degree, then attending the university’s law school, Boalt Hall, and becoming a criminal attorney. His short-term plan involves making sure friends and family members make it into town for today’s graduation ceremony. People are coming all the way from the Bay Area and Portland to attend. He said his family never expected much out of him when it came to school, so news that he’d earned his diploma came as quite the surprise. Rule will take more classes at Sierra College this summer — he has one year left. He said he has never regretted his decision to finish high school. “It’s the best thing I’ve ever done,” he said. Sena Christian can be reached at