Around 100 eighth-grade students who were visiting Washington, D.C., on a field trip Thursday refused to take a picture with Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan.
The students were visiting from South Orange Middle School in South Orange, New Jersey, a town that WABC-TV described as "a progressive, upper middle class community."
In total, around 200 students traveled to the nation's capital, where they found out the night before their visit to Capitol Hill about what many would categorize as the opportunity of a lifetime: A picture with the man who is third in line to the presidency. But half of the students refused to pose with Ryan.
One of the students who opted out was Matthew Malespina, who texted his mother as soon as he found out about the photo.
"I'm just not going to do it," Matthew told his mom, Elissa Malespina, in a text message, according to WABC.
Elissa Malespina, who works as a public school librarian but was not on the D.C. field trip, replied, "Say you would rather not."
The mother later took to Facebook, where the Washington Post reported that she bragged about her son's decision.
“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,” Elissa Malespina wrote.
While some might put country before party when getting the chance to appear with an elected official, Matthew Malespina said, "it's not just a picture."
"It's being associated with a person who puts his party before his country," he said. "The point was, I don't want to be associated with him, and his policies and what he stands for."
Matthew and around 100 other students who refused to be in the picture stood across street as the other 100 classmates posed with Ryan on the U.S. Capitol steps. According to WABC-TV, Ryan had no idea that he was only taking a picture with half of the students.
A spokesman for Ryan told the Post on Sunday that the Republican House speaker "always appreciates the opportunity to welcome students to the Capitol.”
A photo of Ryan fist-bumping a student from South Orange Middle School later appeared on the speaker's Instagram account.
A post shared by Speaker Paul Ryan (@speakerryan) on