When I spoke to Valerie Reidy, principal of the Bronx High School of Science, earlier this week, she said criticism about how she manages teachers and the student newspaper distracts the public from her students’ accomplishments.

“They work so hard, they study so hard. I hate to get caught up in administration-kid rivalry,” she said, adding that she doesn’t hold criticism by students against them. “The kids who push back — that’s what they’re supposed to be doing. I fully understand.”

A teacher at the school followed up on Thursday, sending a picture of 221 Bronx Science students taking Advanced Placement World History exams in a school gymnasium. The test took place on the penultimate day of a two-week spree of AP exams.

“As Principal Reidy mentioned to you, so much is written in the press that focuses only on the negative aspects of teenagers; this photograph is a testament to the seriousness of purpose with which so many of our students pursue their academic studies,” wrote Alex Thorp, an English teacher who also advises the senior class, the school’s print publications, and the yearbook staff. Thorp took the photograph that appears above.

Across the city, more students are taking and passing AP exams after a push in recent years to enroll students in college-level courses. In 2010, 14,522 high school seniors took at least one AP exam, up from 13,697 the year before. This fall, AP course participation will be among the college-readiness metrics factored into high schools’ city progress reports for the first time.