• Published 6th Jun 2018
  • 3,693 Views, 45 Comments

School Recruitment - Calliope Pony



Before opening her School of Friendship Twilight needs to recruit students from Equestria and beyond. Luckily, her friends are there to help.

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Recruiting in Ponyville

Applejack carefully arranged the pies on her stand so passers-by could see the tempting display. The marketplace was just opening, and already some early shoppers were out browsing the stalls. She stepped back to look and nodded her head in satisfaction. She had plenty of experience selling her wares, and she knew a good-looking apple stand when she saw one.

The final addition to the display was a new one. Ever since the meeting at Twilight's castle Applejack had set a rack full of school brochures on the stand and had given them out to anypony who showed a passing interest. She wasn't sure how many would actually enroll, but every little effort to get the word out helped.

Soon the market was filled with ponies doing their weekly shopping. Sales were good. Ponies stopped to buy apples and pies and fritters. Most were regular customers, well known to Applejack, and they usually stopped for a few minutes to exchange greetings and inquire after Granny Smith and the other Apples. Applejack responded in kind, asking how they'd been, how their foals and friends were doing.

A few ponies took school brochures. One mare who had asked about the school the week before now took two or three brochures to send to her nieces in Fillydelphia because she thought they might be interested.

"If'n they have any questions just ask!" Applejack grinned. "I'll be happy to tell 'em anything they want to know."

As the day wore on Applejack's display stand grew satisfyingly emptier. Ponies walked away with their saddlebags full. She was starting to debate with herself how much longer it would be worth staying. She would wait at least until Fluttershy came to pick up the cartload of bruised apples she had ordered for the animals in her sanctuary. The critters didn't mind bruises, and the Apple family was able to give Fluttershy a good discount on the fruits that weren't nice enough to sell at the stall.

Just as Applejack was looking around to see if Fluttershy was coming a new customer approached the stall. He was an adolescent colt with a light green coat, a few years older than Apple Bloom by the look of him. He was notable only in that Applejack had never seen him before. She knew almost everypony in the market by sight if not by name, but here was a complete stranger.

"Howdy there," she greeted him with a friendly wave of her hoof. "What can I do ya for?"

The colt looked over the display before pointing."I'll have one of the fritters, please."

"Here ya go. That'll be two bits."

The colt paid, received his fritter, and sampled it. At the first bite a smile crossed his face.

"This is really good!"

"Best apples in all of Equestria are in that there fritter." Applejack declared proudly. "Don't think I've seen you around here before. You new in town?"

"Yeah. My family just moved here from the west coast. We've only been here for a couple days."

"How're you liking Ponyville so far?"

"It seems nice. I haven't really had a chance to get to know anypony yet. Still, I think I'm gonna like it. When Mom and Dad said we'd be living near the Castle of Friendship my little sister and I were really excited. Princess Twilight is amazing!"

Applejack couldn't help giving a joyful laugh at the colt's admiration. "She sure as sugar is! Say, did you know she's startin' up a school to teach other ponies about friendship?"

"Really?"

"Yep! In fact-"

Applejack cut herself off mid-sentence as she saw Fluttershy trot up pulling an empty cart behind her.

"Oh, hey there, Fluttershy! Here to pick up them bruised apples fer yer critters?"

"Yes. I'm sorry I'm so late getting here, Applejack, but I was reading a story to some of the animals at the sanctuary, and I'm afraid time just got away from me."

"No problem! I got the apples here all ready to load up. Oh, by the way, this here fella's new to town. Sorry, I don't think I caught your name bef-"

Applejack cut herself off a second time as she saw the colt staring at her and Fluttershy with slack-jawed amazement. "Uh, you okay?"

"Fluttershy? Applejack?" He could barely squeak out the words. "You're Princess Twilight's friends? The Elements of Harmony?"

"Uh, heh, yeah." Applejack rubbed the back of her head, feeling a little awkward. "Sorry, I guess I didn't properly introduce myself when we met. Well, you know who we are. What's your name?"

"Sandbar. I'm Sandbar. I can't believe I'm meeting two of the Elements of Harmony! You two are incredible!"

"Take it easy there, Partner. Yeah, we're Elements, but we're just ponies like everypony else." Applejack chuckled and held out a hoof. "It's nice to meet you, Sandbar."

Sandbar still had a look of awe on his face as he shook her hoof, then Fluttershy's. He seemed to be at a loss for words, so Applejack tried to get a conversation back on track.

"Fluttershy, just before you got here I was startin' to tell Sandbar about the school. He just moved to Ponyville and hasn't had a chance to meet anyone yet."

Fluttershy gave Sandbar a gentle smile. "If you want to meet new friends in Ponyville I'm sure Twilight's school would be a wonderful opportunity for you. She's so excited to teach colts and fillies about making friends."

"Princess Twilight would actually be my teacher!?"

"We're all gonna be teachin' at the school," answered Applejack. "Twilight, me 'n Fluttershy, and Pinkie, Rainbow, and Rarity."

"All the Elements of Harmony?"

"Yep."

Sandbar looked so starstruck that he didn't seem to know how to respond.

"I understand if this seems a little overwhelming." Fluttershy spoke in her most reassuring tone. "To tell the truth, we can hardly believe that we'll be teaching in a school too. But I'm sure it will be worth it if we can help teach wonderful young ponies like you. That is, if you would be interested in enrolling. I remember how hard it was to meet new ponies when I first moved to Ponyville."

"I- of course I would be interested but- wow. I never even thought I would have a chance to learn from a princess! I- could you tell me more about it?"

"Of course, Sugarcube! What do you wanna know?"

"Um, well, I'm not really sure." The poor colt seemed flustered. "I mean, I'd like to know everything. And of course I'd have to talk to my parents about it."

"Here's a brochure with all the details. You can show it to yer folks, and if they have any questions they can talk to us about it."

Sandbar mumbled his thanks as he took the offered brochure and looked down at it. Just then Applejack's eye fell on Fluttershy's empty cart.

"Shoot! I almost forgot about yer apples! Here, let me load 'em up." Applejack pulled out the bushels she had stored behind the stand and started putting them in the cart. She soon found, however, that she didn't have enough space.

"There's still a bit more here, Fluttershy, but I'm afraid if I pile 'em any higher they're gonna go flyin' off if'n you hit a bump."

"Oh dear, I didn't realize the cart was too small. Would you mind holding those? I'm sure it won't take me too long to drop these off and make a second trip."

"I'll help!"

Sandbar blurted out the words and then seemed intensely embarrassed as they both turned to look at him. "I mean, I'm not doing anything right now, so I could carry the extra apples for you, if you want."

"Why thank you, Sandbar. That's very kind of you. I would really appreciate the help."

Applejack gave an approving nod as she dumped the extra apples in a sack and slung it across Sandbar's back. "There ya go. Not too heavy?"

Sandbar shook his head resolutely. "No, I'm fine."

"All right then. Like I said, you show that brochure to yer folks. We'd all be real happy to have yeh at the school if you want to come."

As Fluttershy set off with Sandbar following close behind Applejack tossed another fritter to the colt.

"On the house for helpin' out with haulin' them apples!"

***

Fluttershy and Sandbar walked in silence as she led him down the road, out of town, and up to the entrance of the animal sanctuary. Sandbar still seemed to be feeling awkward and embarrassed.

"Here we are, Sandbar. This is Sweet Feather Sanctuary, where I take care of my animal friends."

"Wow, it's beautiful!"

"Yes. I had some trouble starting it up, but everything came together in the end, and the animals just love it here."

Animals ran up to the ponies, looking eagerly at Fluttershy.

"Here you all go. Applejack had a wonderful store of apples for me to share with you. Now don't push each other. There's plenty for everyone."

Sandbar watched as Fluttershy took apples from the cart and distributed them among an amazing variety of fauna. There were a lot of common animals, like rabbits and squirrels and raccoons. There were also some exotic creatures, like a sloth and a toucan.

"Sandbar, would you like to help me feed them?"

"Oh, uh, sure." Sandbar opened his sack and started pulling out apples. A rabbit looked up at him expectantly. "Here you go, little guy." The rabbit nuzzled Sandbar and began happily munching the apple.

After a few minutes Fluttershy started gently turning the animals away. "There now, you've all had a nice snack, but that's enough for now. If you eat too much it'll give you all stomach aches. Besides, I have to take some of these to our friends who are in recovery."

One little white rabbit scowled, but most of the animals wandered back to whatever they had been doing. Fluttershy started pulling her cart further into the sanctuary, and Sandbar followed after her.

"What do you mean about recovery?"

"Oh, many animals come to the sanctuary after they've been sick or injured. Some of them need a lot of extra care."

Fluttershy led him to a place where the river passed by some caves in the hillside. The water moved slowly here, and the trees growing all around provided a lot of natural shelter.

"This is where the animals who need the most care rest. See this poor groundhog hurt his foot, and this blue jay sprained his wing."

Sandbar's attention, however, was on an animal resting in the shallow water.

"Is that a Southern Luna Sea Turtle? I didn't think you could find them inland."

"You can't. This is a Saddle River Turtle. The two species do look very similar, but the Saddle River Turtle is a bit smaller and lives in freshwater instead of salt. You can also see the pattern on the shell is slightly different. This poor little guy hurt his flipper, and he won't be able to swim very well until it's healed."

Sandbar gently petted the turtle's head and offered it an apple. The turtle bit into it and chewed slowly.

"I used to love seeing the sea turtles when my family lived on the coast. My sister and I used to go down into the ocean, and the turtles would come in and swim all around us. I even got turtles for my cutie mark. They're what I miss most about my old home."

"It must be hard moving away from the animals you love. I grew up in Cloudsdale, and there were very few birds that flew that high. I moved to Ponyville in order to be closer to the animals."

Sitting among the recovering animals in the peaceful sanctuary with Fluttershy close by, Sandbar finally seemed to relax.

"I feel really dumb about how I acted before. I've looked up to the princesses and the Elements for a long time. And when I finally got to meet you and Applejack I acted like a total idiot."

"Don't feel bad. I know what it's like to have a hard time talking to other ponies, especially when you care about what they think of you. I've gotten much better, but I still find it easier to talk to animals a lot of the time."

"Yeah, me too. I mean, I don't usually have a hard time talking to ponies, but animals are nice. I like hanging out with them. I just got all flustered when I realized who you were."

"Well, like Applejack said, we're really just like any other ponies. There's no need to feel awkward around us."

"Thanks. You really are kind."

"You seem like a very nice colt yourself. I can see that my animals like you. I'm sure you'll be able to make lots of friends in Ponyville in no time. Still, if you do want to enroll in the school we'd love to have you."

Sandbar petted the turtle again and offered it another apple. "I think I'd like that."