8th Graders Refusing Photo With Paul Ryan Have Better Political Knowledge Than Some Adults

by Christina Marfice
Image via Mark Wilson/Getty Images

This eighth grade class is resistance goals for snubbing Speaker Paul Ryan

The political climate these days is nothing short of divisive, and even those who are years from legal voting age are finding a way to make their voices heard.

An eighth grade class on a school trip to Washington, D.C. had the opportunity to take a photo with Speaker Paul Ryan — except a lot of them didn’t see that as an opportunity so much as tacit approval of Ryan’s politics, something they weren’t willing to ive. Close to 100 of them, in fact, opted out of taking the photo, and sat in a parking lot across the street instead. According to The Village Green, the local newspaper in the kids’ hometown of South Orange, New Jersey, that was around half of all the kids on the trip.

Ryan was unfazed by the protest, and posted a photo with the kids who did participate on his Instagram, because of course he did.

One of the kids who opted out of the photo, Matthew Malespina, was outspoken about why he wouldn’t participate.

“I can’t take a picture with someone who supports a budget that would destroy public education and would leave 23 million people without healthcare,” Malespina said.

Others in the class listed other reasons for sitting the photo out, like Wendy Weeks (“I don’t agree with his political views so I chose not to be in it”) and Louisa Maynard-Parisi (“I didn’t want to be in [the picture] because he believes in most of what Trump believes in”).

Other students in the class participated, but made it clear they didn’t do it out of support for Ryan’s politics.

“I thought it would be interesting to see one of the nation’s lawmakers in person even if I strongly disagree with many of his views,” student Alex Kint told The Village Green.

While community reactions to the kids’ protest have been mixed, the South Orange-Maplewood Superintendent of Schools, Dr. John J. Ramos Sr., stands fully behind the kids. He released a statement, saying, “While we should all respectfully and appropriately acknowledge those in authority, taking a conscientious position about a photo op is within our constitutional right. We are proud of all of our students, who exercised their rights and chose whether or not to participate for their own individual reasons.”