Jill Biden turns Valentine’s Day into lesson for 2nd graders

First lady Jill Biden poses for a photo with Aiton Elementary School students and staff as she welcomes school children to the White House in Washington, Monday, Feb. 14, 2022, to celebrate Valentine's Day. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
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Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Jill Biden has turned Valentine’s Day into a lesson for second graders. The first lady and longtime teacher had Washington elementary school students design Valentine’s Day hearts that are hanging in the East Wing of the White House.

Twenty second graders from Aiton Elementary School and their teacher, Alejandro Diasgranados, also toured the White House on Monday and saw their “heart work” on display. It was the first time many of these students have been to the White House, Biden’s office said.

The first lady also took the group to the North Lawn to see her Valentine’s Day installation: hand-painted, wooden artwork in the shapes of the Bidens’ puppy, Commander, and cat, Willow. There’s also a separate heart-shaped cut-out inscribed with 1 Corinthians 13:13, “Three things will last forever — faith, hope and love — and the greatest of these is love.”

The students cheered loudly as their school bus pulled up to the mansion, where a White House aide greeted them as they hopped off. Commander barked as they entered the building.

“That’s the paparazzi!” shouted one boy as he pointed toward journalists who had gathered to witness the arrival.

Group photos were taken both inside and outside the White House, and the first lady sent the students on their way with White House cookies. She was heard apologizing to one of the adults chaperoning the group for giving sugar to the children.

Asked about the wrist corsage she was wearing, the first lady told reporters that it was a Valentine’s Day gift from her husband, President Joe Biden.

Students in both of Diasgranados’ second grade classes designed two Valentine’s Day hearts using a template and instructions provided by the first lady’s office.

Each student was asked to use words that reflect her values in their designs: compassion, courage, family, gratitude, healing, hope, kindness, love, peace, strength and unity.

The hearts have been strung together and are hanging in a window just inside the entrance to the East Wing, along with three large red hearts placed on the floor that say “hope,” “healing” and “love,” according to a photograph provided by the first lady’s office.

She signed the “healing” heart with “Love, Jill.”

Diasgranados is Washington’s 2021 Teacher of the Year. Biden, a veteran community college professor, met Diasgranados last October when she and Education Secretary Miguel Cardona hosted the 2020 and 2021 Teachers of the Year at the White House.