READFIELD — Luke Arsenault won’t be around next year when the new dining commons opens at Kents Hill School, but the senior is looking forward to coming back for a visit and enjoying the chance to eat outside.

On Friday, school students, officials and trustees marked the groundbreaking for the Harold Alfond Dining Hall, which will be open when school starts in the fall of 2016. When it’s done, it will have space dedicated to outdoor dining and will have enough room inside to accommodate all the school’s 250 students and 100 faculty and staff members.

Arsenault, who is from Augusta, served on the design committee that has worked since February 2014 with architect Steven Blatt to develop the plan for the building. The 15,000-square-foot facility will replace the current dining hall and is situated to take advantage of the views of Sugarloaf Mountain and Mount Washington to the west. In addition to the two-floor dining room, the building also has a “scatter-style” serving area featuring a pizza oven with serving stations for salads, baked goods, hot meals and desserts. The dining hall also will house an art gallery to showcase the work of both students and alumni.

The project was made possible by a grant of $3.5 million from the Harold Alfond Foundation in April that matched funds raised by the school. The Alfond grant is the largest commitment of financial support in the school’s history.

When Ted Alfond, class of 1964, attended, students ate in the basement of Sampson Hall.

“This will be an immense improvement for the students,” Alfond said. “The students probably spend more time in the dining hall than anywhere else.”

The addition of the Alfond Athletics Center changed how the school was viewed, he said, and the new dining facility will help attract students.

“They’ve got a great faculty here and great students,” he said. “This will give them a great dining experience.”

As an independent boarding and day school, Kents Hill School draws students from across Maine and elsewhere in the United States, as well as from 15 countries, to its 400-acre campus northwest of Augusta.

“Last spring we had some picnic tables out here and that was nice,” Arsenault said. “Now it will be even better.”

Jessica Lowell — 621-5632

[email protected]

Twitter: @JLowellKJ


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