St. Francis DeSales High School seniors will cross the stage and receive their diplomas at 10 a.m. Saturday in DeSales' Alumni Stadium.

St. Francis DeSales High School seniors will cross the stage and receive their diplomas at 10 a.m. Saturday in DeSales' Alumni Stadium.

The class of 2008 comprises 220 students, 13 of whom have been named valedictorians. Franklin County Municipal Court Judge James E. Green will serve as the commencement speaker.

Students Heather Stiff and Thomas Heitker were chosen from among the valedictorians to speak during the ceremony.

Stiff, who will speak first, said her speech will focus on the difficult process of applying to and choosing a college. She said her goal is to remind her classmates what an impact they've had on each other's lives.

"Each person brings his or her own talent into the classrooms, and we've done a lot with that," Stiff said. "The friendships created here are so strong that it will have an impact on the way we live our futures."

Heitker said for his speech, he went around the school and asked teachers and staff members close to the class of 2008 what the four years the students spent at DeSales was all about.

Heitker said he'll tie the staff's quotes, which touch on friends, faith, tradition and what students have learned, into his speech.

"Even though we're excited for the future and we're moving on, our experiences have made us a family," Heitker said.

DeSales' valedictorians, who were required to take weighted classes and have maintained a grade point average of 4.1 over 15 quarters, include:

Tara Bennett, of Sunbury, is a member of the National Honor Society, has served as a Buckeye Girls State delegate, is a Martin Essex Scholar nominee and a member of varsity track and cross country teams. Bennett plans to attend The Ohio State University in the fall to major in nursing.

Abigail Binzel, of Blacklick, is a member of the National Honor Society, president of the French National Honor Society and a Buckeye Girls State delegate. Binzel earned a letter for athletic training three years in a row, and she plans to attend Miami University to major in exercise science.

Heather Griffin, of Westerville, is a member of the National Honor Society. She has served as a Kairos leader and a band council representative for the flag corps. Griffin plans to attend the University of Toledo to major in pre-medicine or pre-law.

Caitlin Hayes, a Northland resident, is a member of the National Honor Society. She plans to attend Ohio State to major in athletic training and physical therapy.

Thomas Heitker, of Westerville, is president of the National Honor Society, a Buckeye Boys State delegate, Drama Club president and marching band field commander. Heitker was named a National Merit commended student and received the Honda OSU math metal award and the Paige Dawson Memorial Scholarship. He plans to attend the University of Notre Dame to major in biochemistry and business.

Mary Longenbaker, of Westerville, is a member of the National Honor Society and is a Buckeye Girls State delegate. She plans to attend the University of Notre Dame to major in international relations and Chinese.

Andrea Mazzocco, of Lewis Center, is a member of the National Honor Society, Drama Club secretary, the Band Council Dance Team representative and a Kairos leader. Mazzocco plans to attend the University of Akron to major in dance and business administration or dance and exercise science.

Garrett Messmer, of Westerville, is a member of the National Honor Society and attended the Buckeye Boys State and the People to People Leadership Conference. Messmer plans to attend the College of the Holy Cross to major in psychology.

Elizabeth Nelson, of Gahanna, is a member of the National Honor Society, is a Buckeye Girls State delegate and a National Merit Scholar. Nelson plans to attend the Columbus College of Art and Design to major in fine art and minor in art history.

Colleen O'Connor, of Westerville, is a member of the National Honor Society and vice president of the St. Vincent DePaul Club. She plans to attend St. Mary's College to study nursing.

John Rogers, of Westerville, is a member of the National Honor Society and the varsity golf team. He plans to attend Ohio State to study biochemistry and pre-medicine.

Heather Stiff, of Galena, is a member of the National Honor Society. She was named the 2007 Teen Miss Dance of Ohio. Stiff plans to attend Hope College to study dance and biology.

Jeffrey Walsh, a Northland resident, is ranked first in his class and has taken classes at The Ohio State University Academy. Walsh also was a member of the football team, wrestling team, ski club, math club and the National Honor Society. He plans to attend Ohio State to major in electrical and computer engineering.

jnesbitt@thisweeknews.com