CHELSEA —  Students walked into Chelsea Elementary School on Wednesday morning decked out in their nicest dresses or suits and neckties.

It was not a school dance or a special occasion. It was “Dapper Wednesday,” a new school tradition begun by two third grade students and an ed tech.

Third grade students James Ramage and Lincoln Bolitho, both 8, began wearing suits to school last year as second graders.

James got his first blue suit and wore it to school occasionally, every other week or so, he said.

“I just wanted to wear it,” James said. “I like how people say, ‘Nice suit’ or ‘You look good.’ I like that feeling.”

Then, James’ best friend, Lincoln, got a suit, and James encouraged him to wear it to school.


“The first day I walked in the door, up the stairs, I got 20 compliments,” Lincoln said of his white three-piece suit.

The two boys were the best-dressed students at the school, and ed tech and bus driver Dean Paquette, also known as “Mr. P,” took notice while on lunch duty.

“Mr. P saw us at lunch and said, ‘Let me know when you wear your suit and I’ll wear mine,’ and we all started wearing them on Wednesday,” James said.

Ed tech and bus driver Dean Paquette wears a suit this week as students depart his bus on “Dapper Wednesday” at Chelsea Elementary School at 566 Togus Road. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

The trend caught on quickly with other students at the school, according to Principal Allison Hernandez, who wore a blazer Wednesday as part of her “Dapper Wednesday” outfit.

“We have reminders to students over the intercom to remember to wear something for ‘Dapper Wednesday,'” Hernandez said.

Most students at Chelsea Elementary School, which is part of Regional School Unit 12, walked in with colorful tights under party dresses, hats or suits, like James and Lincoln. James arrived in a three-piece black suit, dress shoes a fedora and a red plaid tie, and Lincoln wore his three-piece white suit with a paisley tie and red and black Nike sneakers.


Paquette said he enjoys dressing up with the students and other staff members because it reminds him of when he would dress up for work as a music teacher, and he was happy to see other students dressing nicely.

James Ramage, left, ed tech and bus driver Dean Paquette and Lincoln Bolitho wear suits and neckties this week on “Dapper Wednesday” at Chelsea Elementary School at 566 Togus Road. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

He has a box of 40 bow ties he bought for students who want to join in on “Dapper Wednesday,” and students frequently ask him for a tie.

“I wore a suit and tie every day, and things have changed,” Paquette said, “but for me, (wearing a suit) used to be professional looking.”

“Dapper Wednesday” is expected to continue at the 566 Togus Road school, and the boys said they hope one day to have a club pin for classmates who dress up.

James said seeing other students wear formal attire to school shows “everyone is good and listens,” and Lincoln called it a “great accomplishment.”

“It feels like a big accomplishment because two guys just started wearing suits,” Lincoln said, “and now the whole school is dressing up.”

Comments are no longer available on this story