David Ruggiero was just eight years old when he started as a student at Blackfriars Priory School.
Today, he was named the school’s 11th Principal, taking over from the retiring Simon Cobiac.
The announcement of his appointment, by Blackfriars Board Chairman David O’Loughlin at today’s assembly, was greeted with enthusiastic and sustained applause by students, staff and the wider school community.
A clearly emotional Mr Ruggiero, the current Deputy Principal and first Blackfriars old scholar to be appointed Principal, said it gave him “immeasurable personal joy” to be given the opportunity to lead the school.
“In February 1984, as an 8-year-old boy, I sat on the floor of this very gymnasium, about to embark on my Blackfriars journey,” Mr Ruggiero told the assembly.
“After my first day at Blackfriars, my parents collected me from my classroom, and I enthusiastically began to recount my day.
“As we came to the north-western corner of St Catharine’s, the Headmaster, Fr John Neill, was farewelling students and he stopped to have a chat with my parents.
“Fr John asked me if I enjoyed my first day. I often relive that memory in vivid detail, and I can recall precisely how I felt. It was authentic joy, stirring energy and deep peace. It felt good to be here.”
Mr Ruggiero always wanted to be a teacher, encouraged by the example of Fr Neill, who passed away last week, aged 89.
He has held senior roles at a number of schools, including Marymount College, Christian Brothers College, St Paul’s College and St Columba College.
In 2012, he returned to Blackfriars, first as APRIM (Assistant Principal: Religious Identity and Mission) and most recently as Deputy Principal.
“I stand before you today as an old scholar of this wonderful school,” Mr Ruggiero told the assembly.
“A place where I was formed, nourished, and mentored; spiritually, emotionally, and academically.
“This school is the home of my lifelong friendships forged together in the spirit of Blackfriars. St Thomas Aquinas understood that true friends are the source of the greatest pleasures, and without friends, even the most agreeable pursuits become tedious.
“I think we, being old scholars, may have adapted St Thomas Aquinas’s message to something a lot more pedestrian as, ‘Once a Blacks boy, always a Blacks boy’.
“Blackfriars is a home where I experienced God, success, challenges, failures, growth, learning, critical thinking, inner thriving and, most importantly, veritas.
“The truth of who I am, at the core of my being, is a Blackfriars boy.”
Speaking at the assembly, Mr O’Loughlin said Mr Ruggiero had a “demonstrated appreciation of the Dominican search for truth and its application in education”.
“His passion for the Catholic faith and identity of the school, his commitment to the fundamental importance of a vibrant and diverse co-curricular program, and his very positive track record of professional management at previous schools, and at this very school, made him a compelling appointment as our next Principal,” Mr O’Loughlin said.
Mr Ruggiero takes over as Principal from January 1, 2022.
A copy of the official announcement by the Very Reverend Anthony Walsh OP, Dominican Prior Provincial, and Mr O’Loughlin, is available to download below.