8th-Grader Imitates Presidential Candidates in Epic Grad Speech | NBC New York
Decision 2016

Decision 2016

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8th-Grader Imitates Presidential Candidates in Epic Grad Speech

Aiello has been doing impressions since he was a child, his parents say

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    Arlington Heights middle schooler Jack Aiello has quickly garnered Internet praise for his hilarious graduation speech, which included impersonations of the 2016 presidential candidates. (Courtesy: John Aiello) (Published Wednesday, June 15, 2016)

    Whoever wins this year’s presidential election might want to call this Chicago-area eighth-grader up as a speech writer.

    Jack Aiello is a young teen with big dreams ahead of him — and potentially a slot on "Saturday Night Live" or in the White House.

    The Arlington Heights middle schooler has quickly garnered Internet praise for his hilarious graduation speech, which included impersonations of the 2016 presidential candidates. 

    Aiello’s entire roughly 350-student graduating class was tasked with writing a graduation speech as part of an English assignment. The speeches were then evaluated by teachers and staff before three finalists were selected.

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    "He was hands down No. 1 because it was going to speak to the kids," principal Brian Kaye said.

    Video of the eight-minute speech was posted to YouTube last week and has since received more than 23,000 views. It was also shared on Twitter by his school, Thomas Middle School.

    "I’ve decided that since we’re in the middle of an election year, that I would do my graduation speech in the style of some of the 2016 presidential candidates," Jack begins in the video.

    But what unfolds after that is a series of spot-on impersonations that few in the audience could have anticipated from the soon-to-be-high-schooler described by many as "humble."

    "We’re learning languages from Spain, from France, from Germany and China," he said during his first impersonation of Donald Trump. "You know, people say I don’t like China, I love China. I mean, I love China. I mean, I have so many terrific friends in China. But I took Spanish and let me just tell you, by the way, that it was fantastic. Muy fantastico."

    Trump is followed in the speech by Ted Cruz, President Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and finally, Bernie Sanders.

    "I’d like to start off by thanking the great hardworking teachers of Thomas Middle School,” he said during an impersonation of Clinton. "They’ve been our champions. They’ve given us the skills to get us through sixth grade and through seventh grade and through eighth grade. And now we’re going to take those skills and apply them to high school."

    Each impression was met with laughs and cheers from the crowd.

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    "As far as schools go, TMS is in the top one half of one half of one percent of schools in the entire country," he said as Bernie Sanders, ending his speech as the hundreds of people in the audience cheered and gave him a standing ovation. 

    Jack’s parents say the teen has been doing impressions since he was a child and they weren’t surprised by his desire to do the speech as the 14-year-old is very much into politics.

    "He’s been doing them since he was very young — family members, teachers, he even makes up his own silly voices and he’s been doing that for a very long time," said his mother, Carla Aiello. "And then with the election, he watches the news clips and he just absorbs everything."

    Jack, who is as much a fan of Dana Carvey as he is of politics, hopes to have a career in politics or comedy in the future, his parents said, noting that his current dream is to meet Carvey. 

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    "If you were to ask him what he really wants to do, he really truly does want to be president someday. He feels a great desire to be a leader," said his father, John Aiello. "A politician or a comedian, which the lines do sometimes blur."

    The family even took the teen to Iowa for the caucuses earlier this year, where they say he met Sanders and former Republican hopefuls Carly Fiorina, Marco Rubio and Rand Paul. 

    "He’s a unique 14-year-old, but a humble kid," John Aiello said. 

    And as for the viral fame he’s since received for his speech, the family says they’re just trying to take it all in.

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    "We’re enjoying it," John Aiello said. "We’re trying to look at it as a blessing, as fun. Be yourself and don’t change and smile a lot."