An estimated 100 parents and alumni were among the 300-plus people paying tribute to military personnel and first responders as part of 9/11 ceremonies Wednesday at St. Francis Solano School.

It’s been 12 years since the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, and every year since then, St. Francis has honored service personnel and first responders. The school is the only one in the Valley to hold such ceremonies.

This year, the morning started with Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts raising the American flag – which was dwarfed by one flying from the Sonoma Valley Fire and Rescue Authority’s ladder truck – on the playground, and being led to the front of the school by bagpiper Jim McElroy.

After prayers and songs, the students, most of whom weren’t yet born on that fateful day, planted American flags in the lawn.

“We’re a faith community,” said St. Francis Principal Debbie Picard. “We believe it’s important to pray for those who need our prayers – especially today.”

Picard said the teachers have to do some preparation for the day.

“We don’t want to frighten the young students,” she said. “We don’t focus on the terrorism. We instead focus on the gratitude and tribute to service personnel.”

“The youngsters don’t understand terrorism, but they understand thanksgiving,” she added.

The ceremony was put together by the seventh- and eighth-graders in the student council along with the group’s moderator.

“They made all the plans, made all the calls,” Picard said.

Special guests included service personnel, firefighters and law enforcement personnel.

“We realize that the students don’t remember 9/11,” Picard said. “But it’s an important part of our nation’s history. It’s a day of prayer and gratitude.”

And while this is the 12th time St. Francis had had the remembrance ceremony, it won’t be the last. Picard said the school will do it again next year … and the year after … and continue the tradition.