Have you ever used the term “If I live to 100”? Well, for Dr. Agatha Sidlauskas, founder of Venta Preparatory School in Carp, that is no longer an “if”. Last Wednesday, February 5th, Dr. Sidlauskas, affectionately known as Doc to all the staff and students at Venta Preparatory School, celebrated her 100th birthday.
Hers has been a long and storied life. Born a few months before the beginning of World War 1, her life has spanned the history of the 20th Century. Doc was born in 1914 and raised in Lithuania. In 1940 she escaped her homeland, which had been occupied by the USSR, thanks to the generosity and protection of her then employer – the Ambassador of Italy. Already firmly on the radar of the KGB, had she not escaped, her fate would have been the same as that of 800,000 of her compatriots: arrest and exile to Siberia. Returning to Italy, where she had studied psychology before the war, she completed her PhD in Child Psychology in 1943.
In 1948 Doc immigrated to Canada arriving in Montreal with the status of ‘Displaced Person’. She first worked in Montreal as a domestic. By 1951 she had secured a teaching position at the University of Ottawa where she remained on the academic staff until her retirement from the university in 1979. In 1958 she had purchased an old farm in Carp which she turned into Camp Venta for the children at the Child Study Centre of the university. She founded Venta Preparatory School in 1981, renovating the camp facility into a small boarding school. By 1990 the community around the school had grown and local children started attending Venta as day students.
Dr. Sidlauskas was principal of Venta until 1994 when she was 80! Despite her 100 years, Doc is still actively involved in the school. She knows each and every student and she still supervises the assessment of all the children who are applying to the school. Happy Birthday Doc. You are an inspiration to us all!