Kents Hill School

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Kents Hill School
One man or woman of principle can always make a difference.
Kents Hill, Maine, 04349
United States
Coordinates 44°24′16″N 70°00′08″W / 44.4045°N 70.0022°W / 44.4045; -70.0022Coordinates: 44°24′16″N 70°00′08″W / 44.4045°N 70.0022°W / 44.4045; -70.0022
Type Private, Boarding
Religious affiliation(s) Methodist
Established 1824
Headmaster Patrick C. McInerney
Grades 9–12, PG
Enrollment 245
Student to teacher ratio 6:1
Campus Township, 400 acres (160 ha)
Mascot Husky
Kent's Hill School Historic District
Kents Hill School.jpg
Bearce Hall
Area 8 acres (3.2 ha)
Built 1873 (1873)
Architect Francis H. Fassett
Architectural style Italianate, Queen Anne, Colonial Revival
Governing body Private
NRHP Reference # 79000149[1]
Added to NRHP April 26, 1979

Kents Hill School (also known as Kents Hill or KHS) is a co-educational independent college-preparatory school for boarding and day students in grades nine through twelve, and for students pursuing a postgraduate year. Kents Hill is located in Kents Hill, Maine, 12 miles west of the state capital of Augusta. It instructs 245 students from over 50 communities in Maine, 25 states, and 18 countries on 5 continents.[2]

Kents Hill was founded in 1824 by Luther Sampson, a veteran of the American Revolution. The school is now a member of the Association of Independent Schools in New England (AISNE) and accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC).

Kents Hill offers a curriculum with honors, Advanced Placement (AP), and regular college-preparatory classes. The school is committed to a values-based education, promoting in every facet of school life its ten "core values": Altruism, Compassion, Courage, Friendship, Honesty, Perseverance, Responsibility, Scholarship, Sportsmanship, and Tolerance. Each academic year, incoming classes choose one core value to exemplify as a group and uphold among their peers, and to adorn a representative class banner that hangs in the student union. Part of the school's mission teaches all students that "one man or woman of principle can always make a difference."[3]


Kents Hill is one of the oldest co-educational schools in the United States, and may be the oldest continuously operating co-educational college preparatory school in the nation.[4]


Kents Hill was founded in 1824 as the Maine Wesleyan Seminary[5] by Luther Sampson, a Duxbury, Massachusetts native and a veteran of the American Revolution. According to an early publication of the Kents Hill Breeze, a school periodical beginning in 1882, Sampson "was of the fifth generation in lineal descent from Henry Sampson, one of the Pilgrim band that landed on Plymouth Rock, December 22, 1620."[6] A carpenter who had not had a formal education, Sampson wanted to use the wealth he had earned in his profession and the government-granted assignment of land he earned as a Colonial soldier to benefit society and to glorify God. Sampson, his wife Abigail Ford, and their children lived in Duxbury and, later, Marshfield, before relocating to over two hundred acres in Readfield, Maine, around the turn of the century.[7] In 1821, Sampson incorporated there the "Readfield Religious and Charitable Society," whose original charter contained no mention of a school, but rather laid a plan to support area Methodist belief and practice. Sampson deeded the society over one hundred acres of land on Kents Hill.

Original building of Maine Wesleyan Seminary with 1836 addition

Failing financially and seeking a more efficacious means of performing his mission, by 1823 Sampson had begun to explore the possibility of changing the society's identity into one rooted in the education of youths.[8] Together with Elihu Robinson, a carpenter-schoolmaster in the nearby city of Augusta, and his wife, they opened the Seminary in order to better society through education. Boys and girls appeared on the school's roster from the day the school opened.


Later headmaster, Dr. Henry O Torsey, oversaw the construction of Sampson Hall which was opened in 1860 and is still serving students today. Dr. Torsey also opened a female collegiate institute - the "Female College" - one of the first of its kind to offer degrees to women at the time. Dr. Torsey is also credited with introducing baseball to the school in 1861.

Bearce Hall was completed in 1873. James G. Blaine, who later served as Secretary of State under President Benjamin Harrison, donated a bell for the bell tower, both of which become important school symbols. To this day, the bell is rung to celebrate school victories and important occasions. During the next fifty years, the school added a conservatory of music as well as a working farm.

Early school seal depicting Luther Sampson's journey to Readfield and school motto, Deus viam indicavit

During the Second World War, Headmaster Bill Dunn inaugurated a ski program next to nearby Torsey Lake. The students cleared the land, and Kents Hill established an alpine racing program that endures to this day. The O'Conner Alpine Center boasts alpine racing and snowboarding facilities, complete with digital timing, night lights, snow-making equipment, and a ski lodge.[9]

Beginning in 1990, Headmaster Rist Bonnefond oversaw further expansion of the school, its programs, and its facilities. In addition to growing the school's curriculum to include 12 Advanced Placement programs, the school added an Environmental Studies program and graduation requirements. Since 1998 the school has added several new buildings and outdoor areas, including the Liz Cross Mellen Ski Lodge, the Alfond Athletics Center, the Hansen Quadrangle, the Colhoun Plaza, the Williams Woodworking Studio, Reed Hall, and several new faculty residences. Davis Hall, the Alpine Center, and Bearce Hall have all been updated and renovated.

In the fall of 2008 the school opened the Harold Alfond Turf Fields,[10] one of the largest turf field complexes in New England.

In 2009, the Bodman Performing Arts Center opened in the renovated Newton Gym.

In 2012, the Waters Learning Center was renamed the Akin Learning Center and a new campus facility opened to house the school's Learning Skills Program.

Historic register[edit]

The school was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1979. Five buildings were included: Newton Gymnasium (1932), Blethen Hall (1883-84), Bearce Hall (1873), Ricker Hall (1893-94), and Sampson Hall (1858-60). Francis H. Fassett, Maine's leading architect in the middle of the 19th century and an important figure in the rebuilding of Portland after the 1886 fire, designed Bearce and Ricker halls.[11]


"To create a stimulating academic community, provide students with the skills to become life-long learners, build each student's self-esteem, and encourage artistic and creative expression and appreciation for the arts" are of some of Kents Hill's stated institutional goals.

The student-to-faculty ratio at Kents Hill School is 6:1, with an average class size of 11. 85% of the faculty live on campus.

Kents Hill offers a college-preparatory curriculum on a trimester schedule: Fall, Winter, and Spring. Curricular offerings include 14 Advanced Placement courses and honors-level courses available in most academic disciplines.[12] Kents Hill offers independent study options for direct-guided coursework outside of its course prospectus offerings. Kents Hill also provides a three-level ESL curriculum for non-native English speakers.[13]

In 2012, Kents Hill introduced a Global Studies Concentration, including required language, humanities, and other GS-designated courses, as well as extracurricular activities and a major capstone project[14]

The school currently offers exchange programs with four international schools: Kent College Pembury, Tunbridge Wells, England; Montaigne School, France; Colegio Estudio, Spain; and Bishops Diocesan College, Cape Town, South Africa.[15]


Kents Hill School was voted "Best Private School in Maine" in 2013 and 2014 by Down East, The Magazine of Maine.[16] In 2003, the school received the Siemens Foundation Award for Advanced Placement programs in math and science.[17] In 2007, social studies teacher, David Pearson, was awarded a Harvard Singer Prize for Excellence in Secondary School Teaching.[18]


"To promote regular physical activity and sportsmanship" is one of Kents Hill's stated institutional goals.[19] The athletics program is designed to meet the needs of a variety of students with a wide range of ability, including offerings in varsity, junior varsity, and non-competitive athletics in the fall, winter, and spring trimesters. All students participate in a sport each trimester.

Interscholastic sports[edit]


  • Boys' cross country
  • Girls' cross country
  • Equestrian
  • Field hockey
  • Football
  • Golf
  • Mountain biking
  • Boys' soccer
  • Girls' soccer


  • Boys' basketball
  • Girls' basketball
  • Fencing
  • Boys' ice hockey
  • Girls' ice hockey
  • Skiing - alpine & nordic
  • Snowboarding


  • Baseball
  • Equestrian
  • Fencing
  • Boys' lacrosse
  • Girls' lacrosse
  • Softball
  • Boys' tennis
  • Girls' tennis

Non-competitive sporting activities[edit]

  • Dance (Spring)
  • Drama (Fall, Winter, Spring)
  • Fitness (Winter)
  • Outing Club (Fall, Spring)
  • Recreational skiing (Winter)
  • Recreational snowboarding (Winter)

Campus facilities[20][edit]

Academic facilities[edit]

Aerial view of campus (clockwise from bottom: Masterman Union, Wesleyan Hall, Dunn Science Center, Sampson Hall, Ricker Hall, Maxim House, Bearce Hall, Weld House, Blethen House, Newton Hall, Jacobs Hall [Reed Hall not pictured])
  • Akin Learning Center (1979, re-housed in 2012), formerly the Waters Learning Center, is home to the Learning Skills Program.
  • Bearce Hall (1873) is Kents Hill's iconic bell-tower structure. It is home to school Administration (Head of School, Assistant Head of School, Director of Studies, and Dean of Students), Admissions, and Communications, as well as the Social Studies Department, several classrooms, and Deering Chapel.
  • Dunn Science Center (1966) houses Science, Environmental Studies, Mathematics, and Modern Languages Departments.
  • Ricker Hall (1893) houses the English and Performing Arts Departments. Historic Ricker Theater is located on the third floor and the KHS Bookstore and Student Center are on the first floor.
  • Sampson Hall (1860) houses the James R. Cochrane Library, Bass Visual Arts Center and KHS Art Department, and the Technology Department (IT), in addition to student residences.
  • Williams Woodworking Studio

Athletic facilities[edit]

  • The Alfond Athletics Center (2001) contains the Bonnefond Ice Arena (dedicated 2011), the Hawley Gymnasium, a fitness center, and locker room facilities, in addition to housing the Athletics Department.
  • The Harold Alfond Athletic Complex (2008) is a single major, divisible turf field including area designations for football, soccer, field hockey, baseball, and softball.
  • The O'Connor Alpine Training Center offers on-campus alpine racing and snowboarding facilities, complete with lights, snow-making equipment, and digital timing.
  • The Liz Cross Mellon Lodge (1998) sits atop the ski hill.
  • In addition to grass playing fields and tennis courts, acres of woods contain maintained cross-country running, mountain biking, and Nordic skiing/snow-showing trails. All these facilities are not only used by the Kents Hill students but support many clubs and youth athletic teams from surrounding communities.

Performance and Leisure facilities[edit]

  • Masterman Union — Dining Hall, College Counseling, Husky Den (snack bar), student lounges, and Lois Masterman Computer Lab.
  • Newton Hall (1932), formerly Newton Gymnasium, is home to the Bodman Performing Arts Center, including an auditorium, recording studio, school band practice room, and offices.


  • Davis Hall — Senior and Postgraduate Boys' Residence Hall, with faculty housing
  • Jacobs Hall (1982) — Freshmen and Sophomore Girls' Residence Hall, with faculty housing
  • Reed Hall (2007) — Junior, Senior, and Postgraduate Girls' Residence Hall, with faculty housing
  • Sampson Hall (1860) — Sophomore, Junior, and Senior Boys' Residence Hall, with faculty housing
  • Wesleyan Hall — Freshmen Boys' Residence Hall, with faculty housing

Historic houses[edit]

  • 1821 House (1821) - Faculty family Housing
  • Blethen House (1883) - Residence of the Head of School
  • Jollity Manse - Faculty family housing
  • Maxim House - Faculty family housing
  • Weld House - Faculty family housing

Notable Alumni[edit]


  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2010-07-09. 
  2. ^ accessed March, 2009
  3. ^ Kents Hill School Mission Accessed March, 2009
  4. ^ Accessed March, 2009
  5. ^ List of closed, combined, or renamed Maine schools, accessed 2009
  6. ^ J. O. Newton and Oscar Young, Kents Hill and its Makers (1947)
  7. ^ J. O. Newton and Oscar Young, Kents Hill and its Makers (1947)
  8. ^ J. O. Newton and Oscar Young, Kents Hill and its Makers (1947)
  9. ^ New England Lost Ski Area Project, accessed 2009.
  10. ^ Field, accessed 2009
  11. ^ "National Register of Historic Places Inventory—Nomination Form: Kent's Hill School Historic District" (PDF). National Park Service. Retrieved 2015-03-04.  Photos
  12. ^ Accessed March, 2009
  13. ^ Accessed March, 2009
  14. ^ Accessed February, 2015
  15. ^ Accessed February, 2015
  16. ^ Best of Maine Two Years in a Row Accessed January, 2015
  17. ^ Siemens Foundation Award, 2003, Siemens Foundation, accessed in 2009
  18. ^ Harvard Singer Prize 2007, accessed in 2009
  19. ^ Accessed March, 2009
  20. ^ Map of Kents Hill School (includes all buildings)
  21. ^
  22. ^ "SMART, Ephraim Knight, (1813 - 1872)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved September 26, 2012. 

All other information is taken from the school's website and publications

External links[edit]