8th graders snub Paul Ryan, refuse to take a photo with him

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The parents' reactions to the incident are symbolic of the deep political divide the country is now experiencing.

Student Alex Klint said it would be "interesting" to get close to "one of the nation's lawmakers in person even if I strongly disagree with many of his views". "I didn't want to be in [the picture] because he believes in most of what Trump believes in", another 8th grader, Louisa Maynard-Parisi, told the Village Green.

The photo was planned in advance, with students being informed the night before that they could have their picture taken with the speaker. According to ABC News, half of the eighth grade class from South Orange Middle School watched from across the street while their classmates posed for a photo. And thus, dozens of tweens from a "progressive, upper-middle-class community" who snubbed the sitting Speaker of the House in a fit of pique are being hailed as "brave" truth-to-power heroes.

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Malespina's mother, who also spoke to reporters, explained how her son had texted her ahead of time to let her know that he planned to sit out. Those who spoke about their choice to the media afterwards made it pretty clear why: They don't like Ryan's policies, and they don't like that he supports President Trump.

Malespina's mother, Elissa, a public-school librarian, said she was surprisedbut approved of the students' silent protest. 100 others posed with Ryan.

Matthew Malespina was one of the students who opted out of the picture session. He's [with] a bunch of people who don't really like him and says 'I got thatFriday?F?eeling.' And that's what I was really annoyed about it.

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Other students were willing to set aside their political differences with Ryan to take advantage of a rare opportunity.

John J. Ramos, superintendent of South Orange-Maplewood School District, issued a statement Monday applauding the students for exercising their constitutional rights.

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