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Middle schooler nails impressions of 2016 presidential candidates

A Chicago middle schooler used his graduation speech to hilariously and politely mock the 2016 presidential candidates — and President Obama.
/ Source: TODAY

He did what?!

Yup, one middle school student in Chicago decided to use his graduation speech to hilariously (and politely!) mock the candidates running in the 2016 presidential race — and President Obama, too. Believe it or not, though he's only just completed the eighth grade, Jack Aiello's speech was far from cringeworthy. It was, on the contrary, an impressive performance that grown-ups and tweenyboppers alike could both enjoy.

Aiello was selected to address his entire class, plus his fellow graduates' teachers, family and friends. But somehow, the enormous crowd didn't seem to shake his confidence or his poise, both of which rivaled those of stand-up comics who've been in the business for years.

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With spot-on impersonations of Donald Trump, President Obama, Hillary Clinton, Sen. Ted Cruz, and Sen. Bernie Sanders, it's safe to say the kid's got talent beyond his years.

Brian Kaye, principal of Thomas Middle School, was just as blown away as his fellow educators by Aiello's speech. But he'd actually already seen it.

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"A week before, we had our 20 finalists compete for who was going to get to speak at graduation," he explained of the school's process for "electing" a class speaker. "When I saw the title (of Aiello's speech), I got nervous. I didn't know if it was going to be targeting candidates in a negative way. Honestly, I was on the edge of my seat the whole time."

But although the content of his oration was sensitive, Aiello managed to keep things light, funny and even uplifting.

"He never put anyone down. It was completely positive, which impressed me," Kaye told TODAY. "He just used their mannerisms and movements and voices to talk about the school and his class. I knew he was going to bring the house down."

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Still, after five years as a principal of the school, Kaye didn't expect the reaction Aiello's speech got on the actual day of graduation. "I don't remember a standing ovation that was immediate. Usually, if there's a good speech, you get a slow rise. But the excitement from this crowd was tangible. Kudos to him," Kaye said with a laugh.

As for the kid behind the voices? "If you know Jack, he's the most humble guy," said Kaye. "It was a surprise for that reason. He’s the sweetest, and he's really enjoyed politics sort of behind the scenes.

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"His parents have allowed him to get engaged with that and watch the shows and everything, and I'm sure right now he's beyond excited about what's happened."

And as for Aiello's prospects for a performance career? Kaye is confident he'll take his skills to the top of whatever field he eventually ends up in.

"I'd love to see him consider a debate or speech team in high school," he said. "He has that ability to target what's current and keep it positive."