The Jacket by His Side for Life

Gray tweed jack with owl embroidered on pocket

 

Prelate, Rev. Jonas Staškevičius’s school uniform jacket, first worn in 1949 in England, never left his side until his death in 2023 in Canada.

The Staškevičius family, fleeing from post WWII Germany, found refuge and a place to live in family camp barracks about half a kilometer away from Bath. Jonas attended the Hawthorn Public School. Children under 10 years of age took high-school entrance exams and those under 13 years of age took exams to qualify for scholarships to schools of the arts or technical schools. Only 4 scholarships were offered in each facility. Jonas succeeded in securing one of the 4 scholarships and chose to attend a school for the arts. Those without scholarships had to pay for their education themselves. Most refugees usually took on menial labour jobs, earned a meagre income and could not afford to pay for their children’s education. Hence many chose to leave England in search of better opportunities in Canada.

Jonas was accepted into the prestigious Bath School of the Arts (operating to this day). The Staškevičius children lived with their mother in the West Wells refugee family camp not far from Bath. Their father lived much farther away in a men‘s refugee camp until he could reunite with his family. They would visit together on weekends. The bachelor refugee men‘s camp at Thornypits Camp was the location for Baltic and Ukrainian social activities. Jonas became the accordionist and pianist for many of these events. Upon acceptance to the Bath School of the Arts, Jonas‘ mother managed to obtain a school uniform for him made of grey wool with the school‘s insignia sewn onto the jacket. By the time the family left England for Canada, Jonas had completed two of the three year program. As a second year student, with the encouragement of his teacher, Jonas entered the third year student art exhibition of landscape drawings and won first place. Later in life, Jonas received recognition for his sculptural and architectural drafting works. But the jacket from the school that launched him as an artist, never left his side.

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