It was not the senior year that Lisa Beavers had planned.
A student at St. Vincent Pallotti High School in Laurel, she had envisioned a year of study, college applications and plenty of socializing with her pals, including best friends Jeanine Everhart and Gloria Graham.
But on Nov. 17, everything was shattered. A dump truck, later found to have numerous safety violations, rolled backward into a car carrying the three friends. Everhart and Graham were killed, and Beavers, the driver, was critically injured.
Despite spending four months in a hospital and undergoing three operations, Beavers graduated June 5 with the other 111 seniors in her class. She maintained a straight-A average, doing much of her school work from a hospital bed. And although she faces yet another operation to place a metal plate where part of her skull was shattered, she expects to attend college in the fall.
"I didn't have any choice," Beaver said recently about her determination to finish school with her class. "Slowing down and not caring wasn't going to help me out."
Beavers plans to take classes at Prince George's Community College during the fall semester. Then, if her recuperation goes well, she plans to transfer to the University of Maryland at College Park in the spring.
She wants to study political science, she said. Her interest in the subject grew after she and her classmates lobbied state legislators in February to pass a bill requiring annual safety inspections of all large trucks registered in the state. While the bill failed, Beavers said she hopes to see it passed next session.
"I'm still not really myself," she said. "I was always a really energetic person and I get tired very easily now, and that's frustrating. It's been a hard year, but I've learned an awful lot."
So, too, have her classmates, said Kathleen Hider, Pallotti's director of development and public relations.
"I think we all learned that we must never take our friends, or anything in life, for granted," she said.