Dr. David Ryan, Superintendent
30 Linden Street
Exeter, NH 03833
For Immediate Release
Monday, July 15, 2019
Media Contact: Jessica Sacco
Email: [email protected]
Exeter High School Club Thrives, Brings Smiles to Hospitalized Children
EXETER — More than three years after a club was founded in memory of an Exeter High School student who died from a brain tumor, the group continues to flourish and bring smiles to children who are hospitalized.
The club, Derek’s Smile, was created in October 2016 after a junior at the school, Derek Hoyt, died from a brain tumor, his third battle with cancer, the prior spring. The club was founded by his sister, Ashley Hoyt, who since graduated from Exeter High School in 2018, with the goal of bringing moments of happiness to children hospitalized and suffering from various illnesses and medical conditions.
Although all students who would have known Derek have since graduated from Exeter High School, the club has continued to thrive and works to bring moments of happiness to hospitalized children in his memory.
Approximately 12 students, many of them freshmen, participated in the group this school year.
“This year was our first without Derek’s sister being here to lead the group,” said Christine Leach, a school counselor at Exeter High School and adviser to the group. “There are no longer any students here who went to school with Derek, and it was a fear of mine that the group would fizzle out after his sister graduated. I am pleased to say that we have grown this year.”
Students in the group raised funds for team “Derek’s Smile” in the Jimmy Fund 13.1 mile walk in Boston in September 2018. Members of the team included Leach, her husband David Leach and special education teacher and case manager Lisha Rowe. The team ultimately raised more than $2,000 for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
For the 2019 Jimmy Fund 13.1 mile walk this September, the team has already surpassed its goal of raising $1,500. To donate to the team, click here.
This past school year, the Derek’s Smile club also organized and oversaw a pretzel raffle, card drive, talent show and basket raffle, and received a donation from the Newfield’s 5K.
As a result of the club’s initiatives, students from Exeter High School sent more than a thousand cards to hospitalized children this year alone. The club also gave $500 donations to St. Jude’s Hospital, Boston Children’s Hospital and Shriner’s Hospitals for Children.
“It has been incredible to see students in the club become so invested in community service and bringing moments of happiness to children who are suffering,” Leach said. “This club has a wonderful mission, and is a tremendous tribute to Derek and the moments of happiness that meant so much to him and those who knew him.”