Bertin Takes the Reins at Cushing

July 29, 2018

ASHBURNHAM -- Cushing Academy’s new Head of School Randy Bertin aims to work with the town to build a relationship with residents and to welcome them on campus.

“It’s about being a good neighbor,” he said in a Wednesday interview. “We want to help.”

Bertin, who was head of a boarding school in Southern California, stepped into his role at Cushing at the beginning of the month.

He is preparing for the start of school in the fall and is looking forward to engaging students, residents in Ashburnham, and communities in the region.

In town, Bertin has been part of the effort to help the Ashburnham-Westminster youth baseball team get to the Little League World Series in Alabama. The school has offered to use its buses to take the team to the airport next week, he said.

The school has been in town for more than 150 years and has maintained a relationship in town.

Cushing offers its facilities for local groups to meet or play sports. The public is welcome for events like the school’s performing arts series.

Last year, the school gave more than $19 million to Ashburnham and surrounding communities, according to the 2017 town report.

Town Administrator Heather Budrewicz said the school pays for a portion of the public safety building that houses the police and fire departments and for an officer’s salary.

Cushing has also made donations for the holiday tree lighting, she said.

“When the town has needed help, Cushing has been able to provide it,” Budrewicz said.

She and Bertin plan to meet and build on the relationship between the town and school.

Budrewicz hopes that working relationship will translate to how residents feel about the school.

“I know some people who have been in town who feel disenfranchised,” she said. “We want to bridge the gap.”

Budrewicz meets school leaders and its grounds team to stay up to date on projects and what else the groups are working on.

Cushing is undergoing renovation for a dining hall and dormitory. A new kitchen, serving area, common space, and a student center will be added, Bertin said. The buildings are expected to be ready for the fall.

Within the past few years, the school revamped its ice rink and the Watkins Field House, he said.

Bertin said the projects have been good for the town because the contractors spend time and money in Ashburnham.

“There’s always ongoing projects,” he said.

Cushing as a strategic plan approved last year that includes a goal to develop a student-centered culture by giving students ways “to expand their horizons in Ashburnham and beyond.”

Bertin said he is interested in finding ways to provide those opportunities.

Community service is already a part of Cushing’s curriculum, he said.

Last year, students completed more than 3,500 hours of community service in town for the school’s annual day of service, the town report said.

The students worked at the fire station, nonprofits, local parks, and playgrounds.

In addition to helping locally, Bertin said he would like Cushing to get involved around North Central Massachusetts.

He has started reaching out to schools and business leaders in the area.

“We’re interested in being a partner or a leader in the region,” he said.

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