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New Haven senior is ‘real deal’

May 19, 2019

Within moments of meeting New Haven High School senior Austin Caudill, it becomes clear that people believe a bright future in leadership awaits him.

“That kid’s going to be president one day,” Principal Anna Murphy said.

Caudill : who has served as class president and student body president : accepts that others call him Mr. Mayor and Mr. President, but said he doesn’t know whether he will ever run for public office.

The 18-year-old’s immediate plans include studying business with a focus in marketing at Purdue University Fort Wayne.

He is expected to graduate from New Haven on May 30, about a week after Bishop Luers and Bishop Dwenger kick off high school commencement season in Allen County.

More than 3,800 public high school students from the county’s four school districts are set to receive diplomas this spring.

While Caudill’s résumé includes activities typical of high schoolers, such as Key Club, National Honor Society and athletics, it also includes the atypical : work on a local political campaign and a board position on the New Haven Community Foundation.

Caudill joined the foundation at 16, making him its youngest board member, he said.

He serves alongside business owners, a city councilman, a school administrator and a police officer. It took him a while to become comfortable in the role, he said, noting his name doesn’t appear much in his first year of meeting minutes.

The teen can now talk to anyone : a skill he credits to working on Bob Nelson’s mayoral campaign, which ended unsuccessfully in the recent municipal primary.

Caudill’s campaign responsibilities included the website, social media and campaign strategy. He quickly learned the value of reviewing potential online content from different perspectives before posting. What might seem innocent to him could anger others, he said, recalling a controversial incident around Halloween that kept his phone buzzing while he attended a Komets game.

His work wasn’t over on Election Day morning.

“I’ve been working the polls all day,” Caudill said in an interview early that afternoon.

Nelson described Caudill as an extraordinary teen and commended his organization and listening skills.

When asked whether it was true Nelson referred to Caudill as his right-hand man during the campaign, Nelson said the student was perhaps his “right- and left-hand man.”

Caudill prefers working behind the scenes : a role he also adopted at school.

For homecoming this academic year, he organized the parade and filed the necessary paperwork with the city : a task the adviser generally does : along with organizing a stunt he long envisioned: have skydivers deliver the game ball.

Pulling it off was stressful because of the timing, Caudill said, explaining he couldn’t easily signal the pilot in the event of a delay.

“It took a lot of planning,” Caudill said.

Rather than playing sports at school, Caudill handled statistics, managed video and helped with day-to-day operations for the volleyball program. He also served as student assistant for the softball team and an assistant coach for the seventh grade basketball team, he said.

He plans to remain involved with New Haven athletics while in college, he said.

“I love it here,” he added.

He will surely get a warm welcome. Murphy said every graduating class includes students she will miss. She knows Caudill is that someone for the Class of 2019.

“He’ll go places,” Murphy said. “He’s the real deal.”

asloboda@jg.net

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