• Published 7th Nov 2011
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School Daze - Paleo Prints



Can Cheerilee make a group of inner city colts and fillies stand and deliver?

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Chapter 3: Wild Wild Life

School Daze
by Paleo Prints
Chapter 3: Wild Wild Life

The crown hung heavy on the head of the immortal monarch of Equestria. Between bridge construction approval forms, colony proposals, and overtures from the griffin clans, the great goddess was distracted from her most pressing immediate concerns.

She was out of donuts. This could not be allowed.

This would be why Her Equestrian Majesty would be sneaking into her own kitchen before dinner. Of course, there would be no possible consequences for an omnipotent alicorn in her own empire. Instead, she knew her wait staff would be mortified for not providing the right amount of food. There would be no simple “Sorry, your majesty.” There would be bowing, prostrating, promises, and weeping. She just wanted sprinkles.

This is why Luna found Celestia sneaking down her own castle with a box of donuts in her mouth.

“Dearest Celly, I do not possess a clue as to how you remain so thin on your ample pastry binges.”

“Mmmph.”

Luna stared. “Horn.”

Celestia quickly levitated the box out of her mouth. Luna blinked and smiled as she started walking next to her sister. “You always forget your horn when you act suspicious.”

Celestia scanned the hallway for helpers while munching through delight wrapped in fried dough. “The horn light gives you away. That’s how Mom always caught you playing with the primordial soup, Woo-Woo. Also, moving heavenly bodies does great for my calorie count, so tonight is hereby declared Donut Night. That’s Royal Decree.”

Luna rolled her eyes as they entered the private sanctum. “You never use the nicknames around the staff, do you?”
Celestia just smiled through the crumbs. “So, everything fine at the school, Woona?”

Luna’s could shrug off the friendly teasing, but her shoulders dropped from a heavier load. “I sent my teacher off with kind words and smiles. I hope she can find her way. She’s going into a new environment alone, without an interpreter. I know how difficult that is.”

The Sun Queen lay down next to her mounds of paperwork. “We can’t do everything for them, Luna. That steps on their free will. Something like Discord is our responsibility to equip them for; they have to fight their own daily battles. We have to let them make their own mistakes. Then, if you’re smart enough to have a system in place, you can get charming mail about all of their failures!” Celestia’s eyes narrowed. “How are my statues?”

Luna sighed, knowing her sister would soon suffer disappointment. “The sculpture of ‘Her Rearing Majesty’ is almost completely gutted. The only valuable part left was the tail.”

The narrowed eyes became wide as they filled with indignation. Celestia’s flailing angry hoof gestures knocked over the tin of donuts. “Seriously? That tail is mixed with important marble. It has glittergem coating. How much more do I have to trick it out before they take the stupid tail?” She snorted indignantly. “I can’t stick gold and gems in a tail.”

Luna shook her head. “Maybe you should just put a ‘steal me’ sign on it.”

“We’ve been through this; the townsfolk won’t accept charity and won’t adapt their business model or equipment. They just don’t stack up to a modern competitive market. What should I do, Luna? Order them to take my money? They’d rather abandon the town and start again in some backwoods with a worse household income.”

Celestia suddenly started grinning. “Well, we can afford another statue. I’ll just quadruple the Gala ticket prices. They’ll become eight times more desirable by the great and good and predictable, and we’ll sell out this year again. The only reason I still hold it is the charity fund raising in any case.”

Luna raised a hoof to her chin. “Sometimes I wonder why we still have a noble caste.”

Her sister gesticulated wildly with one of Pony Joe’s famous crullers. “Absolutely. We should just abandon the whole system of entitlement. Then,” she spat out through a mouth of glazing, “we retool the economy…”

The conversation was interrupted by an adviser galloping inside. “Your Majesties! There are reports of odd noises out in the statue garden. We were worried it might be.”

The two sisters rushed out of the window as one. The adviser wiped his brow as an outside guard walked in to close the window.

The guard turned back. “Isn’t tonight the usual date night in the gardens for Pearl Shell and Helm VanGreaves?”

The adviser pointed an emphatic hoof at the guard. “Yes, and that gives me plausible deniability to have heard weird noises in the garden. They’ll come back embarrassed in a half hour with thoughts of state-mandated revolution gone. Remember, every time they want to rewrite society, you interrupt them.” The aged councilor walked off. “Trust me, boy. Lifespan of stars, attention span of a gnat.”
___
The Old Canterlot constable paced down the street, eyes searching for salted miners. He thus failed to notice the shadowy figure carefully sneaking down the alley walking on its hooves.

The stealthy pony carefully scaled the wall of a nearby building. Looking out for other ponies, she crawled to the edge of the roof and took a flying leap with limbs outstretched. Landing in the back of the empty school yard, she broke into a variety of concealed dance moves. Standing on one hoof, she looked left and right. Suddenly downcast with the lack of judges and audience, she hung her head as she walked into a shrouded alcove.

At this time of day the hallways were empty, but not quiet. Behind most of the hallway doors a constant cacophony could be heard, like a diamond dog slam-dancing troupe in a glassware store. The lonely intruder decided to look for life; there would have to be company in one of these rooms. She decided to continue down the hall and trust her first impressions.
Two aggravated teenage fillies started trotting down the hall toward one of the louder rooms. This was her chance!

“We’re gonna be more’n half late for class, Bomber!” The filly seemed more amused than worried. “”Why bother goin’? Placeholder won’t be checking the back field for another quarter hour.”

The shaved-headed and slightly-older filly cast a glance down the intersection. “Hardpick’s parents were having a go at each other last night. He was right peeved this morning. Meaning…?”

“Um.He’ll pick a fight with Mr. Glare?”

“And ‘ow’s that fight going to end? ‘bout how long will that take?”

The smaller green-coated pony with the pinkish mane suddenly smiled. She waved her hoof at her friend, begging her to continue the line of logic. I love it when Bomber puts things together, thought Luster Shinebrick.

“So we wait...”

Bomber was interrupted by a gigantic muscular youth exploding out of a classroom door. The grey-skinned colt bolted out of the room, heading for the back field with tears in his eyes. As his hooves clattered away, the girls heard a voice lecturing in aggravated offense.

“…and after I spent so many bits setting this up. Come on class; let’s try to get through this. Spadeshaft! Get that out of your mouth immediately! We need that for the mixture. “

The two young mares nickered. “See what I said, Shiny? We haven’t missed the good part yet. We’ll ditch the horn-head today.” Bomber cantered into class.

“…and you, Ms. Jacket! Forty-five minutes late today. That’s your third tardy in a week. I have to tell your uncle now, you know.”

Luster shook her head as she stood in the hallway where she assumed she was alone.

“There’s a good part?”

She walked into the door, leaving the stealthy filly alone and hiding behind the water fountain. She was confused. None of the new ponies had come over to say hello to her. She gritted her teeth. This was unacceptable. This day was going to end well for her, end of story. She clopped her front hooves together hard enough to make sparks, did three back flips in a row, and started galloping down the hall. Every instinct in her body told her a better life was behind the door she charged through.
___
“You’ll be our fourth teacher on staff, Cheerilee. We’ve had a few Literature teachers in the past few years. Never stuck around. Had one sub for four years, I heard. When I came on board they had replaced him with some goofy stallion from Trotland, but that didn’t last long.”

Cheerilee listened attentively as she walked down the noisy hallway. Literature! This’ll be fun after all. We’ll read “The Manticore’s Paw” and “The Most Dangerous Race” and more. I can deal with this.

She became aware of the relentless sounds behind every room. “The students sound very excited! What kind of special activities are we doing to make them sound like that?”

Placeholder made slight clicking sounds with his tongue as he opened the first door on his left. “They’re doing whatever activity these students have decided to follow today.”

Cheerilee’s eyes lit up. “Independently guided learning! I was trying that with my students near the end. Everyone chooses their own point of interest at their own rate.”

Placeholder raised his eyebrows quizzically as he held the door open for the mare. “My dear, I said activities. I’d never bring myself to call it learning.” Cheerilee tried to digest this as she followed him through the threshold.

She nearly slipped as she entered the paper-filled disaster area. To her right was a white Pegasus mare with gleaming metallic-shaded yellow hair. She peered cheerfully through horn-rimmed glasses at the two adult ponies behind a very tall desk. Those piles of math texts on her desk almost look like they’ve been used as a wall.

The middle of the room was mostly empty of desks. The desks had all been huddled in the back of the room in a chaotic mess from which students held court. Separating the lustrous-haired schoolmare and her boisterous mass of students was a paper-filled no-mare’s-land. Wadded-up balls formed the bulk of the easily two-hoof-tall mass, but Cheerilee could make out a variety of other shapes. Folded fortune-telling devices, paper planes, and neighnja stars accentuated a pile topped by an elegant origami of a hydra and a mare, performing activities that seemed biologically implausible.

“Hello!” The besieged mare smiled, ignoring a paper dart that bounced off the textbook fort. You must be the new lit teacher. A pleasure to meet you!”

Her new co-worker extended an unsteady hoof. Cheerilee could tell the mare was genuinely happy to see her; the shaking seemed to be nerves. It spiked with every loud noise and peal of laughter from the other side of the class. Her wings defensively flapped out to shield her from some imagined threat at every loud sound.

“Golden Ratio, at your service. I run the math program here. It’s good to get another mare into the building.”

Well, she seems friendly at least. “I’m Cheerilee from Ponyville. I’m glad to be here in Luna’s Academy.” Cheerilee looked past her new co-worker to a blackboard filled with filled with intricate equations and figures. Cheerilee appraised them with a smile. “Those are some excellent supplementary angle problems. That’s about as far as we get in geometry from where I come from. You’ve picked some good numbers for the students to work with.”

The pale pony smiled wildly as she flapped a few feet into the air. “Thanks!” She turned to look at the previously quiet principal, giving Cheerilee a clear view of a triangle cutie mark made of three rulers. “Placeholder lets me come early in the morning to get my work done. Since our funding is being lowered, he also made sure that we’re kept in workbooks.“

The principal merely bowed his head low at the praise, narrowly dodging a hail of crumpled paper. “Shouldn’t you put some of those workbooks to work, then?”

Ratio nodded with melancholy. She picked up a small pile of books off of her desk, and flung them at the students in the back. The young ponies gleefully divvied up the paper. One light-blue girl with pen in teeth started making a list of eligible young colts on the inside cover. Next to her two colts drew a crowd as they gripped a workbook with their teeth and proceeded to tear it apart like a wishbone. A smaller colt to the side began mechanically reducing his book to identical looking paper balls.

Cheerilee just stood still, her mouth hanging open in shock. This lasted the few seconds it took for a paper dart to bounce off of her top lip. She turned to the two adult ponies, sucking her throbbing lip.

“Dere destohying the buhks!” She let her smarting bottom lip go. “You need to stop them!”

Golden Ratio gave a wan, heartbroken smile. Placeholder shook his head, smiling. “My dear Cheerilee, when this place is closed down those books won’t help anyone. I doubt they’ll be transferred to any other school. We might as well use them; after all, we have a budget. Point of order, we have enough of a budget to keep the little miscreants in mathematical art supplies until our most likely shut down date.”

Cheerilee stared at him hard. “Is this place just a jail mixed with a paper shredder?” She pointed at the board. “Ms. Ratio’s obviously putting hard work into her daily Do Nows and lesson questions.”

Placeholder sat on his haunches with a sardonic smile. “She is blessed with a bounteous supply of optimism, one trait with which I am not blinded. I don’t care whether she draws equations or pictures of Princess Luna in socks playing tennis. As long as her students don’t kill each other or wander the halls, the school is content.”

He turned to the metallic-haired mare. “Miss Ratio, I’ll be retiring to my office to get a jump on last week's paperwork. Since you have planning next period, would you mind showing her around?” Placeholder started walking out before she could give an answer.

“I’d love to, but I was hoping to get some lesson planning down today. I have to work on our chapter test for the next unit.”

He smiled as if humoring a child trying to dig to Chineigh. “That’s wonderful, Miss Ratio. Give her a lovely tour.” His horn glowed as he closed the door behind him.

Golden Ratio quivered at the obvious dismissal. She started to stand in front of the desks and address her class. “My students, I may have to move the test a few days up, maybe not until…” She suddenly stopped, lifting her hoof to cover her eyes and her wings against her side. She flinched as a parade of paper products besieged her.

Okay, this is too far.

“All of you, stop it!” Cheerilee placed herself in front of the assault aimed at the math teacher. “This is no way to treat a teacher!”

Her raised voice barely registered against the noise. She stood there, an equestrian shield against the volley. The ringing of the bell ended the skirmish. The students kicked their desks out of the way to the door, leaving the furniture scattered in a random pile.

The only ponies left in the room were the seething Cheerilee and the surprised Pegasus behind her. “Listen, I have no idea why Placeholder isn’t doing something about that. You deserve more support from your administration.”

Ratio smiled the first true smile Cheerilee had seen. She extended a steadier hoof than before. “I appreciate the sentiments. Call me Goldy. I’ll tidy up and we’ll meet the rest of the crew.”

---

It took most of the period to get the paper. Cheerilee felt like Sisyfur rolling a boulder up the hill; she was certain it would look the same by the end of next period. Still, she wanted to make a good impression on her new co-worker. As they crossed the hall, Cheerilee once again heard a terrible din in the next classroom. This time, however, the tone was different. Goldy’s class had been a constant roar; this sounded more like a single voice drowned out by heckling. She was reminded of the magician who came through Ponyville a few months ago.

It was too bad she left so soon; I was hoping to have her speak to the kids.

She entered a room where the students sat on desks around the edges of the room. They surrounded a pony that Cheerilee could only think of as “the Ringmaster.” The entire room looked setup to be his performing area. She wondered where the student labspace was.

The teacher who was valiantly struggling trying to capture the class’s attention was a light red earth pony in a stained and well-worn lab coat. His yellow mane with orange streaks was tangled up in the stretchy band of his green safety goggles. Standing on his back legs, his hooves moved over a chaotic mess of tubing and beakers which was filled with a variety of bubbling chemicals. The lab coat was opened, revealing the image of a shooting rocket across his flank.

Goldy was smiling and shaking her head as if watching a familiar train wreck. Cheerilee leaned in to whisper. “Does he know they aren’t paying attention?”

Goldy shook her head as she examined the chaos. “Red does this out of love, but he has rose-colored safety goggles.”

“So, a little bit of saltpeter should do us right! Mix in some crushed blackstone pebble dust and some scales from a…” He turned to one of the students. “Railrunner, what scales do you use for a primary explosion?” He smiled like an expectant stage magician.

An older colt with a mining cart on his flank was busy chatting up some fillies. He turned to the teacher, rolling his eyes. “Dragon!”

Red Glare waved a hoof. “Cave lizard, but that’s a close evolutionary guess. Okay, once I move this around we’re ready for the demonstration. Brightlight, which one of Neighton’s Laws of Motion governs what’s going to happen?”

“Third!”

As Mr. Glare smiled and nodded, Goldy shook her head. She leaned in close to Cheerilee. “That’s the only one they ever guess; Red hasn’t noticed yet.”

“So class, we shake it all together, get it ready, and watch the meniscus level closely.” The science-stallion looked up in anticipation. He started to say something when he noticed the two teachers in his audience. “Miss Ratio? To what do we owe the honor…”

His eyes moved to the fuchsia pony to Goldy’s right. Cheerilee was smiling in polite anticipation; she always enjoyed the science demonstrations in her own school, and this one was much more elaborate than her old materials allowed.

“Hello fellow! Well, not fellow. You’re definitely not a fellow! I mean, you’re a fellow teacher! You’re here to teacher things to us. I mean THEM; not me. Hello!” He giggled nervously.

“Hello Mister Glare, and hello class. I’m your new literature teacher. What are you teaching today?”

Red kept eye contact with Cheerilee while moving around the mass of beakers on his acid-pitted demonstration table. “Chemistry. We have chemistry. In class today; I mean that’s the subject”

He seems a little…spastacular. “Is it supposed to be bubbling like that?”

The students all turned their attention to the center once they heard the familiar phrase; this was the part worth paying attention to. Red Glare quickly checked the well-worn joints on his apparatus. “Um, Miss Literature? I mean, that’s not your name, but what is your name? I mean, move!”

-----

Cheerilee ducked to the side as the contraption shot off a stream of multicolored liquid; Golden Ratio knew what to expect from Red and had already subconsciously moved out of the blast. The jet of noxious goo barely missed the two schoolmares. A few flecks of ooze dropped off the ceiling onto Cheerilee. She quickly lifted a leg to cover the splash that would have hit her eyes. She sighed with relief a second before a large glob crashed into her mane.

“Eww! Gag me! What is this crud?” She started attacking her hair with her hooves. “This looks disgusting!”

Red Glare appeared at her side in nanoseconds with a roll of paper towels. “No, it looks good. Your hair was already like cotton candy; you’ve just got a new flavor!” He started wiping her mane, but only succeeding in sticking several paper towels to her hair.

She narrowed her eyes and growled. “Does this stuff come out?” Red Glare backpedaled nervously.

“Certainly! I mean, it should! I mean, I’ve never checked. I think I have some industrial solvent here.” The fuchsia pony seemed to be almost emitting smoke from her ears. She was holding back a scream of frustration when the bell rang.

“Hey, everypony! Remember to turn in your worksheets on the demonstration!” The students heedlessly filed out at high speed. Worksheets left on desks were sucked into the air by the wind; most of the note sheets had only one or two sentences written on them or were already on the floor. “I hope you wrote down your homework!”

Cheerilee was breathing in and out rapidly as Glare approached her. He carried a bottle of glowing green liquid in his mouth, and dropped it on a desk in front of her. “Zebra cleaner! Promises to get even the hardest stains out of upholstery!“ He extended a hoof. “Red Glare, science!”

She walked slowly closer; if glares could geld, this one would. “You call this science? You nearly BLINDED me with ‘science’!” As she advanced, the nervously grinning Glare was pushed against the back wall.

Cheerilee was angry for a variety of r easons. The waste of paper in this room irritated her. She was struck by the injustice between Red Glare’s lab and her own simple one back in Ponyville. This clown had a stocked equipment cabinet lab, and he wasted it dangerously. Finally, there was the slightly burning irritation on the back of her neck.

She elegantly condensed all of these competing emotions into a single burst of fury. She screamed right into Red Glare’s face. “LAB SAFETY!” On that note, she turned and trotted out of the room.

Goldy gave Red an understanding smile. “Sorry that didn’t go as well, Red. You lesson was…impressive. I’m sure she’ll come around.” She patted his head as the dejected science pony sat on his haunch. “My planning’s over; I have to go."

Red Glare watched his coworker leave. Between the earlier argument with Hardpick and this debacle, he thanked Celestia that his planning had just started. He gave a glance to the long suffering class mop, held together by duct tape and hope.
“Why don’t ponies understand my intentions?”

____

Cheerilee’s head and temper cooled under cold water. She flipped her mane back, and then dunked her head into the teacher’s lounge sink again.

At least, this looks like a teacher’s lounge. There was a couch, but also a collection of mops, buckets, and cleaning supplies. Next to the coffee machine was a mysterious sign that said ‘Rocks: 2 for 1.’

Red Glare carefully crept into the room behind her. I can make a good second impression! She’ll remember that. After all, that’s chronologically closer than the first. He walked up to her carefully. Wonder why she’s in the sink?

His thought suddenly processes grinding to a halt. Cheerilee suddenly pushed her hooves onto either side of the sink, flipping her mane backwards into the air. The water cascaded everywhere, running down her shoulders and onto her back and the floor. The effect was so perfect that forever afterward Red maintained that he saw the whole thing in heart-stopping slow motion.

His mind left on pause, he was unable to move when Cheerilee turned and bumped into the pony that had unwittingly silently snuck up on her. She shrieked as she bumped into Red Glare, who was staring like a parasprite at a candy store.
Cheerilee stared daggers at the rapidly deflating science teacher. “Take a picture, creep. Maybe Photo Finish will pay you for it.

The schoolmare walked out of the room, snorting. Red stepped over to the sink, placed his hooves on both sides, carefully inserted his head and turned on the freezing water.

_____

The disgruntled earth mare tramped down the hall with aggravation. What is that guy’s problem? Can’t I get more than one sane co-worker?

She stopped in front of the northwest classroom door. There were sounds inside the room, but not at the same decibel level as the others. Maybe this one will be better. It’d be hard to be worse than the science teacher. He’s just like that old pony in that book by Nabotrot; both creepy and surrounded by teenage fillies. Mental note; don’t stand so close to him.

Entering the room warily, she saw a stunning sight. The room was filled with students working! They were actually sitting at orderly desks, scribbling away with textbook and worksheet while the teacher captivated their attention.

“So, that’s when my Uncle Forsythe took the bottle, flipped it around in his hoof, and looked the chimera right in the eye. He was gonna knock that stupid hat right off.”

The teacher was comfortably sprawled over his desk. The dark green unicorn had a huge brown mustache, and his horn protruded from a curly ball of blue hair with brown patches. He perked up as Cheerilee walked into the room.

“Hey there! Welcome to the party, pal. Globe Trotter, social studies, at your service.” He came out from behind the desk and gave a little bow.

Finally, I find a gentlecolt.

Cheerilee made her way through the classroom. “It’s a pleasure, Mr. Trotter. I’m glad to see a friendly face in this place.”
Mr. Trotter waved his hoof dismissively. “Oh, don’t worry about our little ‘minehogs.’ They got good hearts if you motivate them.” He walked behind the desk, telekinetically rifling through what sounded like a mass of odd objects.

Cheerilee beamed. “Totally! I had to work had to find the right amount of praise and privileges for my students.”

Her voice trailed off as Mr. Trotter’s horn held a glowing bucket of candy over the class. “Hey everypony! Who’s finished?” He shook a mass of sugar big enough to make Pinkie proud over the heads of his class.

Cheerilee gaped as the expectant teens waved papers in the air in Mr. Trotter’s direction. One shorter colt waved his paper eagerly into the air. “Oooh! Oooh! Ooooh! Ooooh! I got this and the next one done, Mr. Trotter!”

The unicorn teacher beamed. “Great work, Horseshack!” He threw hooffuls of candy in the colt’s direction. It showered the on the desks like Maredi Gras beads.

Well, that’s a little unorthodox. I guess it could work with the right reinforcement.

Cheerilee wandered over to a nearby student’s desk. The student was nearly done with a double-sided worksheet.

“Oh, the Winter Revolution! I love that part of history; so tragic. So, what you tell me about Stalliongrad history? Trotsky and the Foalsheviks?”

The spiked-haired mare shrugged. “Hay if I know.”

Cheerilee looked at the stack of completed papers on the desk. What is this I don’t even…

“Hold on a sec, young miss. You’ve finished an entire chapter of work and you can’t tell me anything?”

Cheerilee peered at the workbook. Frowning, she noticed that it was written on a very low reading level. In fact, the questions were literally the identical sentences in the textbooks with words replaced with blanks. I could train a monkey to fill this out.

“You’ve actually filled out ten pages of work and you don’t know anything about the subject at all?”

The young mare looked offended. “Hey, up your nose with a rubber hose! I’m an ‘A’ student in here!”

Half of Fluttershy’s pets would be one, too.

Cheerilee looked backwards at Mr. Trotter. He was gesturing wildly with one hoof. “So, if you finish the chapter review, I’ll tell you about the time my cousin Norbert and I were in Haygas.”

The class gave a little cheer. Mr. Trotter raised his eyebrows and telekinetically wiggled his chalk in front of his face in triumph. He stopped when he heard the slamming door close.

I guess she’s got somewhere to be. It’s not like there’s much more she could see here. He levitated a lollipop into his mouth. It’d be easy for her to tell who’s best pony in this school, after all.

______

Cheerilee kicked her cart forcefully into her classroom. Without even taking a look around, she threw herself backwards, leaning against the wall. Covering her eyes with her leg, she knew how much she had to look like Rarity in the middle of a pity party. She gave no bucks.

A baby-sitter! That’s who I’m paired with. I have a glorified babysitter, a demure target, and a walking disaster area! I’d go to the principal for help if he actually cared. How am I supposed to actually inspire anyone in this place?

She closed her eyes as the tears started to come. She spent several seconds quietly quivering against the door before the silence was broken.

“Me am not happy to see you either! Me knew if me waited here no one would come!”

Cheerilee jumped at the sound. She realized that she wasn’t alone in the darkened classroom. Terrified, she yanked down the nearby window curtain with her teeth. Cheerilee looked through bleary eyes to see the familiar light purple young mare with the beanie staring at her. The odd figure was beaming.

“Screwball sad! The friends have not arrived!”

Next Chapter: Where did this mysterious backwards mare come from? Will Cheerilee actually manage to stay awake through Placeholder’s morning meeting? Join us for everypony’s favorite teacher and her first day of class at Luna’s School for Disadvantaged Youngsters!