LEWISTON – Third-grader Heaven Washington, 9, huddled close to prekindergarten student Jada Miranda-Jackson, 4, as they worked on a valentine card.

“Show me how you write an s,” Heaven coached.

At a nearby table, Isho Abdullahi, 9, helped Abdi Rahman, 5, transform a blank card into a valentine.

A spirit of caring was in the air Monday during the first “Share Your Longley Love” event at Longley Elementary School. Older students helped younger students make Valentine’s Day cards for community members.

“This is to say thank you to people for all the help they give us,” said Longley Principal Linda St. Andre.

With valentines, they’ll thank the crossing guard who helps students at Birch Street every morning and afternoon. They’ll thank businesses that provide volunteers, donate goods and services. They’re sending cards to hospitals and nursing homes to reach out to those who could use a little cheer.

“This is our first year,” St. Andre said. “We’re hoping it’ll be an annual event.” In addition to thanking people, another goal is to “connect our students to the community,” she said.

All 350 students in grades prekindergarten to grade six participated. Third-graders teamed up with prekindergarten students; fourth-graders with kindergarten students; fifth-graders with first-graders; and sixth-graders with second-graders.

Without help from older students, “it would take a lot of staff to do this,” St. Andre said. “They are giving us more hands.”

Event coordinator April Gagnon, who is a special education teacher, agreed.

“Lots of times, they learn more from their peers than teachers, and a lot of these kids like to help younger kids,” Gagnon said. “It makes them feel helpful.”

Gagnon demonstrated her Valentine’s Day spirit with her outfit. She wore a pink top with hearts, a headband with two pink hearts on springs.

As students filed into the gym, they picked up a blank card and an envelope filled with stickers. They had to decide which two cardboard cutouts to use — a Longley lion, a heart or a smiley face. Students also decided which message to include, such as “be mine,” or “you’re cool” or the cordial and always-safe “Happy Valentine’s Day.”

After students made cards, they were treated to hot cocoa, courtesy of Tim Hortons, St. Andre said.

The cards will be delivered by adults on the school’s events committee well before Feb. 14, Gagnon said. That way, receivers will have time to enjoy and display them, she said, “and won’t have to take them down because Valentine’s Day is over.”

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