Saint Dominic Academy fourth-graders write Tuesday what they are giving up during Lent at a multi-themed celebration at the Lewiston school. Wearing her Madi Gras mask, Isabella Bouffard, right, is giving up soda, and Dylan Crockett, left, is giving up pickles. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)

LEWISTON — It is Valentine’s Day!

Before you wine and dine with chocolates or fine food, today is also Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, a time of sacrifice and charityfor many Christians.

Teachers at the Catholic Saint Dominic Academy figured out how students could have their Valentines chocolates and make the Ash Wednesday sacrifices, too: They celebrated early.

Valentine’s Day parties, complete with cupcakes, candy and cards galore, were held Tuesday.

In one classroom, students exchanged cards featuring zombies, kittens or trolls. One student made pink paper pigs, called “Hogs and Kisses,” filled with Hershey Kisses.

Fourth-graders exchanged cards and ate treats in the morning, and worked on religious assignments in the afternoon.

“Their instructions are to write down something they’re going to give up on the (paper) cross,” teacher Sue Olsen said. “On the (paper) Easter egg, they’re going to write what they’re going to do extra.”

She hoped the Lenten lesson would help students understand that giving up something can be a way of thinking about — or making up for — times “that we aren’t very nice,” Olsen said.

But Ash Wednesday and Lent are not all about sacrifices, she said. They are also about becoming a better person, changing our habits and doing something positive.

At his desk, Aiden MacKenzie, 10, worked on his cross.

He was doing Lent old school-style.

“I’m giving up candy,” he said. To become a better person, “I’m going to try and not fight with my brother. He’s 7.”

There was a lot of reflection among fourth-graders on how they should treat their siblings.

Molly Strout, 10, said she is giving up “threatening my sister to do stuff for me.” She intends to use Lent as a time to become more patient.

Abby Cushman, who just turned 10, said her favorite cards were those with cats. She loves cats. “I have four cats. But one of them ran away.”

Her plan is to combine her Lenten sacrifice with being a better person. She’s giving up “yelling at my brother, a lot, for coming into my room.” Instead of yelling, “I’ll tickle him out,” she said with a laugh. “He’s ticklish.”

Angelina Valiente, 9, said she’s giving up fast food for Lent and will stop fighting.

Joseph Adams, 9, is another student who plans to cut back on fighting with his siblings.

“I have two younger sisters, one younger brother,” he said.

That can try a young man’s patience.

“Yes,” he said. “They really get under my nerves sometimes.”

He has a plan on how to do for others: “I wanted to save up money so I could go to St. Dom’s high school. Instead, I’ll save money and give it to the poor instead of keeping it for myself. My parents are going to help me.”

While admiring his zombie Valentine’s Day card from Aiden, Tyler Randall, 9, said he liked observing Valentine’s Day a day early.

“It just means getting a lot of candy,” he said, smiling with a lollipop in his mouth.

On his cross, he wrote that he was giving up desserts for Lent. No cookies, cakes or ice cream until Easter.

On his doing-something-better-during-Lent goal, Tyler said he will try to “stop talking in class.”

That is hard for the self-described “chatterbox” whose desk is kept away from the other students.

No word yet on whether the school or parents will handle Easter differently this year.

Easter falls on April Fools’ Day.

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Saint Dominic Academy 4th grader Tyler Randall wears the Madi Gras mask he made as he colors an egg that he is writing what he is giving up for Lent this year during the multi-holiday party at the Lewiston school that also included Valentines Day. He plans to give up desserts for Lent. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)

Saint Dominic Academy fourth graders write down what they are giving up during Lent at a multi-themed celebration at the Lewiston school Tuesday afternoon. Wearing her Madi Gras mask, Isabella Bouffard, right, is giving up soda and Dylan Crockett left, is giving up pickles. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)

Some of the cupcakes that fourth-graders enjoyed Tuesday at Saint Dominic Academy in Lewiston. The school observed Valentine’s Day a day early because today is Ash Wednesday. (Bonnie Washuk/Sun Journal)

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