That ‘new-school smell’

Published 9:31 pm Thursday, September 4, 2014

There’s something hard to resist about new things.

Whether it’s a newborn baby, a new car, a new dress or a new house, there’s a certain smell that just about anyone would recognize as attaching only to something that is brand new. Slide in behind the wheel of that new car, even blindfolded, and you’ll know immediately that you’re the first one to do so. Cradle that tiny infant in your arms for a few minutes — even when her diaper’s clean — and you’ll remember that baby smell for years to come.

On Tuesday, about 520 young Suffolk students, as well as faculty, staff and parents, had a rare chance for a similar experience at Pioneer Elementary School, Suffolk’s newest educational institution, built to take the place of Southwestern and Robertson elementary schools. Pioneer opened Tuesday morning for its first, first day of school.

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There are bound to be many more first days of school there, and generations of children will pass through its recently hung doors, but there will never again be one as special as the one this week. No matter how hard the school’s maintenance crew works to keep it clean and get it ready for future students, Pioneer will never again have that “new-school smell.”

Actually, it will have a better smell. From now on, the facility will welcome visitors with the smells of a well-used cafeteria, classroom-sized bottles of hand sanitizer, papier-mâché crafts, white glue, pencil sharpeners, wet mittens and children.

Together, they are the smell of elementary school. And a strong case can be made that the smell of elementary school is the very best smell in the world.

Congratulations to the folks, young and old, who will inhabit the hallways, classrooms, offices and other spaces at the new Pioneer Elementary School. Enjoy your new facility, and make the best of the time you have there. No place will ever smell the same.