House Speaker Paul Ryan recently discovered that not all of social-media savvy Generation Z is game to jump in front of a camera. During a class trip to Washington, DC, half the visiting students from New Jersey’s South Orange Middle School opted out of a photo with Ryan, reports ABC 7. About 100 kids who say they oppose his policies chose to stand across the street in a parking lot while Ryan posed with the rest of the class. "It's not just a picture," says student Matthew Malespina, who texted his mother, Elissa, for advice when he discovered the House speaker would be on the trip’s agenda. Elissa, a school librarian, responded that he could simply say he’d “rather not” participate, and told the Washington Post that she was surprised, but happy over the small protest.
“I’m proud of him, and I’m proud of the other students that chose to exercise their constitutional rights and did so in a respectful manner.” Other parents were not as pleased with the decision, saying it was disrespectful to the speaker's office, while the students who did pose with Ryan shrugged off the protest. "I thought it would be very cool just seeing the man who is the third most powerful man in our country," student Miles Handelman says. "It would be cool, even if you disagree with him." The eighth-graders say they believe Ryan, who posted his own shot of the moment to Instagram, was not aware of the situation at the time. Asked about it Sunday, a spokesperson for Ryan said he “always appreciates the opportunity to welcome students to the Capitol.”