Half of 8th grade class from New Jersey refuses to pose with Speaker Ryan

Sunday, May 28, 2017
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N.J. Burkett reports from South Orange.

SOUTH ORANGE, New Jersey -- A group of 200 middle school students from New Jersey caused quite a flap, after half of them refused to take a picture with Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan.

It happened Thursday during South Orange Middle School's field trip to Washington.

Student Matthew Malespina was among 100 students who did not partake in the picture with Ryan. They watched from the parking lot.

"It's not just a picture," said Matthew. "It's being associated with a person who puts his party before his country."

Matthew says he found out about the photo the night before.

Matthew texted his mother, "I'm just not going to do it."

She texted back, "Say you would rather not."

Matthew did just that.

"The point was, 'I don't want to be associated with him, and his policies and what he stands for,'" Matthew's mother Elissa Malespina said.

Other parents see it differently.

On social media, one parent said that the students should respect the office of the Speaker of the House, even if they disagree with the man who holds that office.

The students, from a progressive, upper middle class community, were evenly-split.

100 other students did pose with Ryan. Miles Handelman was one of them.

"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," Handelman said.

Students say the speaker left entirely unaware of the eighth grade dissidents watching from a distance.