Education never smelled so good.
The new Evergreen Elementary School at Joint Base Lewis-McChord smells new.
It should, as students and staff returned from the holiday break to begin 2017 in a brand new school Jan. 3.
The school is the sixth and final Clover Park School District elementary school to be built on the base.
Evergreen Elementary and the five other new schools were built based on a Department of Defense initiative to replace aging and substandard school buildings at military installations across the nation.
"All of the new schools at JBLM were built to meet the needs of the future," said Rick Ring, the district's administrator for business services and capital projects.
The District and the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) partnered with the DoD and Office of Economic Adjustment to replace the six elementary schools on JBLM.
"We are very fortunate to have such a new, state-of-the-art school like Evergreen," added Ring.
State and federal funding combined to allow for the construction of Evergreen, as well as the other five other new elementary schools.
The other five facilities are Hillside, Carter Lake, Rainier, Meriwether and Beachwood elementary schools.
"All of the schools were constructed with the best interests of military families in mind," continued Ring.
Construction of the schools took place from 2013 through 2016. The total investment costs for all six schools is $212,518,390.
Located at 9020 Blaine Avenue, Evergreen Elementary was designed by Brown Connally Rowan Architects and built by Skanska Construction.
"Thanks to federal and state funding, this project is now a reality," said Debbie LeBeau, Clover Park School District superintendent, in a press release.
"I am confident many, many thousands of promising futures will be created in these beautiful new facilities."
The newest preschool through 5th grade learning facility has a current enrollment of about 525 students, with a capacity for 760.
Evergreen Elementary also has a quality that the other five schools do not.
"It is truly a unique facility in that it is the only school on JBLM that provides a compassionate care component," Ring said.
This is in keeping with JBLM as a compassionate care base whereby soldiers' with family members who have special care needs are stationed.
"Those needs are met at Evergreen," said Ring.
Situated near to the Madigan Army Medical Center, the building was constructed to serve students with disabilities and who may require specialized instructional spaces.
"Updated technology, classroom spaces and improved access for physically challenged students will greatly improve the quality of education for our students," continued LeBeau.
Both Ring and LeBeau were quick to praise JBLM's public works and base command teams.
"They played a key role, and they made our efforts a lot easier," said Ring.
"It was a real team effort."
A grand opening celebration for the Evergreen Elementary School will be held this spring for parents, students, staff and community members.