Steamboat Springs Before seventh-grader Jada Garber went to school Wednesday, her mother reminded her to think about the colors of the American flag that she was wearing as a symbol of the nearly 3,000 people who died last Sept. 11.
Garber invited her friends to join her in wearing red, white and blue for the day.
"I just know that it is really sad because a lot of people died last year," seventh-grader Kami Utu said.
Utu and Garber were among several Strawberry Park Elementary and Steamboat Springs Middle School students who participated in a ceremony Wednesday at the living memorial between the two schools.
The living memorial was completed in June and includes numerous bushes, park benches, a new flag and a brick foundation. The memorial was designed with two large trees that represent the twin towers and a cement base in the shape of the pentagon.
During the ceremony, Steamboat Springs Middle School Principal Tim Bishop asked students what they had learned from the Sept. 11 attacks and to spend the day thinking about how they have changed.
"If we don't make ourselves better people and understand how important our life is, our heroes have died in vain," he said.
Middle School Assistant Principal Jerry Buelter said there are 1,750 bricks in the memorial and each student will have his or her name on one.
The living memorial was the result of hard work and donations from the student council, the parent information committee, Fred Grippa of Midwest Electric and the climbing wall club. He said these groups donated bricks, cement, lighting and trees for the memorial.
Strawberry Park Elementary Principal John DeVincentis explained to students why the flag was at half-staff and what they could think about during the moment of silence.
Middle school students presented a $1,000 check to Steamboat Springs firefighters on behalf of the student body.
"We at the fire department are very honored to be remembered at this time," said Paul Yonekawa, Steamboat Springs Volunteer Fire Department captain.
He said the money donated will be used for safety training and the scholarship program.
Students at Steamboat Springs High School also organized an assembly to commemorate the Sept. 11 attacks. It focused on hope and remembering the people who died with the aid of a computer-generated slideshow and speeches from students and staff.
High school teachers imparted their wisdom while also giving students time for reflection.
"Now we can consider it in terms of our history and the way the world is looking at us," teacher Dexter Mahaffey said.
He said his class devoted an entire class period on the anniversary day to reflect and look at the terrorist attacks with a different perspective as time has passed.
English teacher Tom Fitzgerald's class read poems that dealt with loss and centered on the issues of terrorism.
"I think that just because Sept. 11 is to this generation what Nov. 22 (1963) was to older generations, it is something we can't ignore," he said, referring to the day President Kennedy was assassinated.
Each school has its own way of addressing the Sept. 11 anniversary.
The Christian Heritage School had a red, white and blue day for all students and staff.
"We don't want the children dwelling on something negative," Headmaster Tim Deibler said.
He said he wanted the day to be as positive and as fun as possible for the students.
The Lowell Whiteman School planted a tree and each student helped by adding a handful of dirt during the planting.
The tree will have a plaque that reads, "A Tree of Hope and Peace," said Margi Missling-Root, director of experiential education. She said donations for the tree were collected from students and faculty.
"For us it is a time we are using to signify hope and belief in each other and mankind," Missling-Root said.