Bradford Area High School recently recognized students who met a difficult academic achievement: earning the highest score possible on their Advanced Placement exams.

Enrichment teacher Jan Russell explained that, each May, the College Board offers Advanced Placement — or AP — exams, which are “the culmination of year-long Advanced Placement courses.

“They are very rigorous courses; the most difficult courses a student can enroll in at our high school,” she said.

Students in AP courses are generally sophomores, juniors or seniors.

The outcome of the tests can mean savings of thousands of dollars — as well as time — for college-bound students, according to Russell.

“Students scoring a 3, 4, or 5 can receive college credit from the college they will attend,” she said.

And while a score of 3 or 4 is a happy conclusion for a student who can count that work toward a college degree, scoring a 5 is a rarer achievement.

“Scoring a ‘5’ on an AP Exam is an amazing accomplishment,” Russell explained. “It is the highest score one can achieve in this program.”

In fact, only eight current Bradford students reached that mark in at least one subject: Tripp Hoover, Abigail Barton, Zayne Carpenter, Vy Dao-Nguyen, Liam Fraiser, Mitchell Barker, Jessie Kerr and Tyler O’Neil.

“They were honored with ‘High 5’ signs placed in their yards to share this amazing news with the community,” Russell noted.

Many others placed high enough to receive college credit in at least one subject.

Russell said, “Additional students passing at least one exam include Adrienne Angell, Lauren Baldwin, Devin Benson, Emily Bosworth, Mary Bukowski, Ryley Cleveland, Ciaran Conneely, Brianna Conner, Spencer Cornelius, Gavin Dach, Grace Dalton, Austen Davis, Jocelyn Doriguzzi, Brayden Ervin, Bradley Eschrich, Kayelyn Eschrich, Leah Faulkner, Jessica Fox, Christina Fussell, Isabellan Johnson, Leatrice Kakolewski, Emma Kennedy, Andrew Kuzmeskas, Mikiah Langianese, Hannah Lary, Ethan Little, Mackenzie Lucas, Alexander Mangold, Kyle McWilliams, Julia Moini, Timothy Mulcahy, David Niegowski, Reece Norcross, Abigail Nuzzo, Alix Ordiway, Ian Paterniti, Lauren Placer, Allison Pulver, Gerrit Randall-Klouw, Allison Schleicher, Hannah Schleicher, Mitchel Signor, Aiyana Sherwood, Haley Stack, Evan Stewart, Kylie Stiles, Devin Sweet, Adam Torrey, Elizabeth Walt, Laryssa Webster, Spencer Whittemore, Zachary Williams and Emily Wonderly.”

Exams in at least a dozen subjects were available to these Bradford students.

In Bradford, “students took a variety of these exams in areas of Science, (AP Environmental Science, AP Chemistry, AP Biology), Math (AP Calculus AB, AP Computer Science), English (AP Literature and Composition, AP Language and Composition) AP Psychology, AP Human Geography, AP Government, AP US History, to name just a few of the courses in which our students participated,” Russell explained.

At Bradford Area School District, the district covers the exam fee.

The district has been strengthening its AP program in recent years.

According to the school’s 2020-21 registration guide, the school has seen a “significant increase” in the number of students taking AP courses due to a partnership with the National Institute for Math and Science.

Russell explained the National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI) program sponsors Saturday study sessions for Bradford students, she added. At these sessions, special instructors from across the nation would provide four hours of instruction for students.

Also through the NMSI program, Bradford’s teachers could participate in advanced training.

“Most of our AP students do participate in these Saturday sessions and did this year until COVID-19 shut the schools down,” she said. “NMSI did continue with help for our students by providing online training sessions.”

According to the College Board’s website, COVID-19 also meant at-home testing — and taking extra measures to keep cheating at bay. At a security protocol, students worldwide took their exams at the same time, which meant that some were testing in the very early morning and others late at night.

The College Board made sure college admission officials were informed of the difficult circumstances surrounding this year’s testing so they could keep it in mind when evaluating applicants.

Many participated in testing despite the difficulties. The College Board reported that 4.6 million AP exams were taken between May 11-22 in 32 subjects.