Sidwell Friends School has launched a four-year, $3-million capital fund drive, the largest fundraising effort in the school's history.

Money raised during the campaign will pay for construction of a new arts center, a second gymnasium, improved track facilities and playing fields and new biology and maintenance facilities. The drive will continue through 1983, the 100th anniversary of the school.

It will also add $750,000 to the school endowment fund to increase the pay scales of senior faculty members and make more money available for scholarships. The current endowment is $250,000. Tuition ranges from $1,500 to $3,000 a year depending on grade level.

The largest and most costly new building to be constructed on the 14-arce Wisconsin Avenue campus is the $1.18 million arts center.

The main floor of the center will have a 450-seat theater with an orchestra pit and a large stage leading to scenery construction and costume shops and dressing rooms. The theater will open into a large lobby and connecting art gallery. The main floor also will contain a 125-seat Friends Meeting Room.

The lower level of the arts center will include music practice rooms, classrooms, a darkroom and studios for painting, drawing, printmaking, drawing, graphics, pottery, ceramics and sculpture.

The new gymnasium will cost $730,000 and will contain a full-sized basketball court with surrounding space for weightlifting, volleyball, wrestling, gymnastics and dance. It will also include additional locker facilities and a new infirmary.

Plans call for leveling and resurfacing the football field, improving and expanding the track to one-fifth of a mile and converting a small practice field into 50- by 100-yard playing field at a combined cost of $200,000.

The construction program includes the remodeling of four lecture rooms into two lecture and laboratory rooms with 20 work stations in each, an advanced study laboratory and an animal room with a controlled environment. Studio arts and biology facilities will be relocated from their present building to make room for a maintenance and storage headquarters.

Founded in 1883 by Thomas W. Sidwell, a Quaker educator from Baltimore, Sidwell began as a small day school downtown. In the 1930s, it began moving some classes to Wisconsin Avenue and in 1963 expanded its facilities by adding a 4 1/2-acre campus in Bethesda for its lower school. With almost 1,000 students, it is one of the largest coeducational, independent day schools in the nation.

"The centennial provides an opportunity to re-express and to extend Thomas Sidwell's ideals," said Earl G. Harrison Jr., headmaster at the school. "As it strengthens the school's power to serve both its present and future students, it also helps us to demonstrate what one school can contribute to the larger community." CAPTION: Picture, The Sidwell Friends School, above, founded in 1883 by Quaker educator Thomas W. Sidwell, has launched a $3 million centennial fund drive to improve the school campus at 3825 Wisconsin prove the school campus at 3825 Wisconsin Ave. NW. See map below. By Craig Herndon-The Washington Post; Map, No Caption, The Washington Post