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A sobering math lesson

Homework Club, an after-school institution for some of Surf City's poorest residents, struggles to scrape together funds to survive amid budget cuts.

May 30, 2012|By Michael Miller
  • Tutor Joann Craft, left, goes over math regrouping exercises with Anthony Castellanos, 7, during Homework Club at the Oak View Branch Library on May 24.
Tutor Joann Craft, left, goes over math regrouping exercises… (KEVIN CHANG, HB…)

Jesus Lara came to study at the Homework Club after it literally answered his cry.

The Huntington Beach resident found himself floundering in the third grade, and not just because of his difficulty grasping math and science. At home after school, he tried to make his room a quiet sanctuary, but he found his studies constantly interrupted — by his younger brother pounding on the door, by the bustle in the kitchen and other clatter around the house.

Finally, Jesus' frustration boiled over, and not inside the bedroom.

"One day in class, he just started crying for no reason," his mother, Nancy Bueno, said.

Jesus' teacher shared the news with his mother and recommended a solution: an after-school program at the Oak View Branch Library that provided a quiet study space, or something close to it, and a chance to work with tutors one on one.

Seven years later, Jesus is a sophomore at Ocean View High School, fitting in football and three clubs alongside his classes. His brother Uriel, who has since atoned for pounding on the door, and sister Naomi attend the library's Homework Club regularly.

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Jesus wants to be a veterinarian, Uriel a zoologist; Naomi isn't sure about career plans, but devours mystery novels in her spare time. All three say the Homework Club, which the library offers four days a week, has been invaluable in keeping up their grades.

And all three are hoping that the club will last through the end of the next school year.

Last year, Huntington Beach lost its state funding for libraries, as Sacramento made drastic budget cuts. Officials scraped together enough through grants, donations and fundraisers to keep the program afloat. For the coming fiscal year, the budget forecast looks the same, which means the community may have to band together again to maintain the club until June.

"We're optimistic," said Stephanie Beverage, the city's director of library services. "We're hopeful that a champion or a group of champions may step up and support the programs there."

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'You're going to go to college'

Oak View, a low-income, mostly Latino neighborhood tucked southwest of Warner Avenue and Beach Boulevard, looks far removed from the spacious suburbs that dominate most of Huntington.

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