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Get to Know Almeta Crawford High School Principal Keith Fickel

Sienna - Get to Know Almeta Crawford High School Principal Keith Fickel

August 16, 2023

Keith Fickel, principal of the new Almeta Crawford High School near Sienna’s entrance on FM 521, wants people to know the school is brimming with community spirit.

“I want Crawford High School to represent the community in the very broadest sense of the word,” he said. “From parents of young children who will one day attend Crawford High School to older residents whose children are out of high school, Crawford High School will be a valuable and meaningful part of the community.”

He and the Crawford HS staff hosted a Hopes & Dreams event in May, listening to teachers, parents, students, and the community on what hopes for the school to be, which was the first step in developing an action plan that represents the needs of the community.

Understanding the importance of community building stems from Fickel’s more than 32 years in education. Armed with a music education degree from Texas Tech University, Fickel first worked as a music teacher before becoming band director at Lake Olympia Middle School in 1993. He has remained in Fort Bend ISD for most of his career — and was even band director at Baines Middle School in Sienna before switching to school administration.

“As a band director, you have so many different factors in running a successful program — it’s like a school within a school,” he said. “I wanted to take my skill set and put it to use for an entire school.”

Prior to being named principal of Crawford High School in 2021, Fickel served as assistant principal and associate principal at Baines Middle School, assistant principal at Willowridge High School, and principal at Sugar Land Middle School.

In the fall of 2022, he officed at Thornton Middle School where he established relationships with students there, many of whom are now attending Crawford High School as freshmen. Also starting in the fall of 2022, Fickel began the hiring process for the approximately 80 teachers and staff who would go on to open the school.

“Our staff members are excited to open a brand-new school, knowing that they will be wearing a lot of hats during these first couple of years,” he said. “Although we have only about 600 students to start with, all of them will have access to all the clubs, organizations, classes, activities, and sports that a high school with all four grades and many more students has. As we add a grade level in each of the next two years, we will also add more staff and teachers.”

Designed for 2,800 students, Crawford High School is the first new high school in Fort Bend ISD since 2010 when Ridge Point High School opened in Sienna. It boasts a modern design unlike typical high schools that have a large hallway running the length of the school. Instead, it is built to allow students choices on how to get to their next class, the cafeteria, library, etc., rather than going down one crowded hallway. A gated, wedge-shaped courtyard with two skybridges that connect the north and south ends of the building, giving it the feel of a junior college. Learning stairs are collaborative spaces, and classroom furniture can be configured into singles, doubles, trios, quads and even conference-style seating — it is only limited by the teacher's imagination and creativity. Ample glass allows for natural light, something experts say keeps students more focused than artificial light, Fickel said.

As for the first day of school, Fickel said it started with the typical welcoming of students, helping them find their classrooms and other housekeeping types of activities. In the afternoon on the first day of school, the campus held a Renaissance Rally, based on a concept from Jostens Renaissance, one of the school's key partners. During the rally, elements of the developing school culture were introduced to the students, the achievements and accomplishments in athletics, academics, and the arts already earned by students and staff were recognized and celebrated, and students played several games. This was the first of many future Renaissance Rallies designed to bring students, teachers, and staff together to build a strong sense of spirit, pride, and community within the school.

Fun Facts About Crawford High School Principal Keith Fickel

  • Education is a family business — both of his parents were teachers; his wife was a teacher, and his daughter is a teacher.
  • He plays low brass instruments.
  • His wife was also a band director, and his daughter is a band director, as well.
  • Keith and his wife, Anne, have been married for 26 years.
  • This isn’t the first time Fickel has opened a brand-new school — he was a member of the first 10thgrade class at Shepton High School in Plano. He was also the school’s first drum major. He also was a member of the staff that opened Baines Middle School in Sienna in 2006.

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