Half of This 8th Grade Class Refused to Take a Photo with Paul Ryan

These middle school kids were not here for Speaker Ryan.

Yuri Gripas/Reuters

This group of eighth graders is as divided as our country.

During a field trip to Washington D.C., nearly 100 of a group of 200 students from New Jersey declined to take a photo with Speaker Paul Ryan, ABC affiliate WABC reports.

The eighth graders from South Orange Middle School visited the Capitol last week and chose to stay in the parking lot rather than participate in the photo-op.

One of the students, Matthew Malespina, told WABC he just could not go through with the picture. It did not matter Ryan is Speaker of the House of Representatives or third in line for the presidency.

“It’s not just a picture,” Malespina explained. “It’s being associated with a person who puts his party before his country.”

Malespina’s mother, Elissa Malespina, helped explain his decision saying, “The point was, ‘I don't want to be associated with him, and his policies and what he stands for.’”

Some parents disagreed with the photo boycott on social media. One said the students should respect the office of the Speaker even if they do not agree with him or her.

Miles Handelman was one of the students who posed with Ryan. He said, “I thought it would be very cool just seeing the man who is the third most powerful man in our country. It would be cool, even if you disagree with him.”

Paul Ryan posted a picture from the photo-op on his Instagram account. Students say he left unaware of their classmate’s protest.