What if the members of the graduating class of Shoshana S. Cardin School woke to their commencement day, only to find that they had to complete another four years?
An horrific thought for any graduate.
That's how Dr. Norman Prentiss, chairman of the English Department at and award-winning horror fiction author began his keynote address Thursday at .
"The story is called "Four More Years," Prentiss said, referring to the graduation horror story he wrote for the occasion.
The story begins with one of the eight graduating seniors wishing to relive positive experiences at the school, Prentiss said, noting that there is "a bittersweet element" to any graduation.
"The important thing was, the wish came true," he said, going on to name each student, putting them into fictional scenarios based on their own personal 'fear' or characteristic.
As each student's scenario was read, members of the class laughed and giggled.
One student enters her first class of her second round of high school where she will be in charge of nurturing baby animals for a petting zoo—for four whole years.
Another reaches into an aquarium to fish out a box of No. 2 pencils, only to find her arm surrounded by the sliminess of a jellyfish.
One student visits a vending machine, only to receive "delicious, chewed food," and a returned, shredded dollar bill; another encounters a beard of live bees—giant honeybees from Asia, Prentiss explains.
"I take situations from real life and make them worse," Prentiss said of his writing, including the graduation tale.
Horror fiction helps people explore their fears in a safe place, he said, just as Cardin has been a safe place for its students.
"I saw all of you here at Cardin face some pretty scary stuff ... and succeed," he said, refering to "mounds of homework" and other challenges.
"My wish for all of you is that you face all the challenge ahead with strength, and that you will be fearless when you need to be."
Graduates of the Class of 2012 are: Arielle Simone Bodner, Matthew Franklin Danoff, Adina Rebecca Golob, Yeriah Ben Phillip Robinson, Beverly Joyce Rogers, Dora Safonova, Nora Lynn Salzberg and Kate Dorothy Sher.
Scher and Rodgers gave student addresses—Rogers' delivered in Hebrew. Golob presented the Passing of the Torah.
"We all have our own strengths and weaknesses that in the beginning may have caused tension, but have now helped us to form a strong bond as a class," Rogers said in a printed synopsis.
Dr. Paul Schneider, a board of trustees member, gave the invocation. Head of School Barbie Prince, staff member Leslie Smith Rosen and Board of Trustees member Howard Rosenbloom gave diplomas.
Rabbi Stuart Seltzer made closing remarks, and Paul Binko performed music for the event.