The student news site of Francis W. Parker School

The Parker Weekly

The student news site of Francis W. Parker School

The Parker Weekly

The student news site of Francis W. Parker School

The Parker Weekly

A Not-so-Casual Community Initiative

Upper Schoolers Team up to Make Unity Fashionable
Dylan+Maki+24%2C+Owen+Zeller+27%2C+Gabriel+Vilus+25%2C+and+Davu+Hemphill-+Smith+24+dressed+for+not-so-casual+Friday.
Photo credit: Dylan Maki
Dylan Maki ’24, Owen Zeller ’27, Gabriel Vilus ’25, and Davu Hemphill- Smith ’24 dressed for not-so-casual Friday.

On any typical (bi-weekly) Friday, if you spot numerous freshly-pressed button-ups and dress shoes –– don’t be alarmed. It’s Not-so-Casual Friday. Early this year, seniors Davu Hemphill-Smith, Dylan Maki, and junior Gabriel Vilus teamed up to prove that style, laughter, and community building can be the most powerful tools for change.

On September 28, the group sent out an email requesting that Upper School students and faculty show up to school the next day in full formal attire, and initially, this was faced with some skepticism. 

According to Hemphill-Smith, Maki, and Vilus, who make up the Not-so-Casual team, Head of Upper School Cory Zeller voiced some concerns about the inclusion of every student in Not-So-Casual Friday. “We didn’t want to push anyone out of this experience just because they didn’t have certain clothing. We changed the language from ‘wear this tomorrow’ to ‘find something similar that goes with the theme’,” co-founder Gabriel Vilus said. Considering this, the Not-so-Casual team included various options for their themed outfits. 

The particular dress code for that week included a navy top, khaki bottoms, and black shoes. Many showed up the next day sporting their not-so-casual attire. However, the stylish group wasn’t made up exclusively of students. “A lot of teachers popped out, that was really exciting. Mr. Tyler, Mr. Carlsson, they were looking really fly,” Hemphill-Smith said. “It was just cool to see all the people participate in the group’s movement.”

Hemphill-Smith, Maki, and Vilus’s passion for fashion outside of Not-so-Casual Fridays inspired the group to create their movement. “Davu wanted to match outfits with Gabe and I, and the idea just kinda came to us,” Maki said. “[Parker students] can all show up in style. It’s just a nice way to bond the community.” The trio’s idea came to fruition as soon as the first email was sent. The next day, it was a trio no more.

Freshman Owen Zeller has been participating in Not-so-Casual Friday since the first event was announced. “I think it’s impacting the Parker community in a really positive way. It makes for a fun Friday, and it makes people excited for something other than just going to school,” he said. Zeller was initially drawn to the event due to its “goofy and fun” nature. “I think it’s always interesting to have a little fun like that at school.” The light-hearted, low-pressure, and unifying aspects of Not-so-Casual Friday drew participants in, welcoming them to a space where they can wear button-downs and slacks on a Friday. 

The bi-weekly event has seen fantastic participation according to the heads. “Dr. Frank participated, teachers I’ve never met participated, I’ve even gotten to know a lot of freshmen better because of this. It’s great,” Vilus said. “They come up to us and say ‘oh, do you like my Not-so-Casual outfit?’” 

According to the heads, Not-so-Casual Friday has proved that what may be “goofy and fun” can also break cross-grade boundaries, underline the importance of fostering connections, and cultivate a positive school environment. They see it as a testament to the kindness, creativity, and the ability to inspire change within one’s own community.

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About the Contributor
Sejal Ahuja, Online Editor
Sejal is thrilled to spend her second year on “The Weekly” as an online editor! In between uploading articles to the fabulous Weekly website and writing articles of her own, she enjoys reading, listening to music, and watching movies. She is also head of MX communications, and a Mock Trial head.