Welcome to 2023: A message from our Principal

As Blackfriars celebrates its past in this 70th anniversary year, we stand on the precipice of an exciting future.

That was one of the key messages from Principal David Ruggiero during the first all-school assembly of 2023.

“In 1953, when the school commenced, the world was a very different place,” Mr Ruggiero told the assembly.

“There were no computers. No air conditioning in the buildings. There would have been just a couple of buildings in the school. Young men coming in on the first day, riding their bikes down Prospect Rd, which would have been like a track. The world has changed and we are part of that change and we live in very exciting times.”

John Robbins and John Haimes ride their bicycles up the school’s driveway on Blackfriars’ first day – 10 February 1953.

While it was important to celebrate the past, it was vital we embrace the future, he said.

Mr Ruggiero read to the assembly a paragraph explaining the benefits of Dominican education, before revealing it was written by ChatGPT – a new artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot that can create essays, summaries and other pieces of written work.

“We are on the precipice of a new digital revolution that you will be a part of,” Mr Ruggiero told the students.

“How you use this technology will be the critical factor and that’s something that will not change. The truth, the veritas, of finding out what is real and what isn’t. SACE has not banned AI and we will not, either. Instead, we want to help you use it safely. It’s something for us to explore over the course of this year. It’s a wonderful time to be alive, especially if you like all things ICT.”

Meanwhile, Mr Ruggiero also used the assembly to welcome those new to the Blackfriars community.

“Those of you in our Primary School and our Receptions, welcome. Hopefully you feel part of our community,” he said.

“To our new Year 7s, hopefully the transition from your primary schools has been a wonderful experience for you. And to the other new students scattered throughout the school, welcome to Blackfriars.”

And he reminded students of the benefits of being part of a Dominican community.

“You might remember at the end of last year that I mentioned to you that I was going to go away for the Christmas break and, with my children, construct Optimus Prime, the really big Lego one that I purchased,” he said.

“But sometimes in life, things don’t go as planned. I had some surgery on my wrists and I couldn’t finish it.

“And over the course of this year, you might have some obstacles that you face; some things that don’t go according to plan. And, so, you need to make the most it, and work with that situation that you’re given, that life situation. To be able to move forward. That’s where our faith and our community and our Dominican four pillars come in. Where we support and help one another through times that might be challenging. Times that we might have a goal set and we don’t achieve it.

“That’s why we have a community and that’s why we have our faith, to help us get through those trying times. So make sure you support one another as you commence this year.”


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