Glad writer

Notre Dame alum says his high school put him on the road to college and career success.

Al Smith, a 2012 Notre Dame Prep alum, graduated from the University of Michigan in 2016 with a degree in screenwriting and screen arts. While he was a junior at U-M, Smith was given one of the most renowned writing awards conferred by the university, the Avery Hopwood and Jule Hopwood Creative Writing Award, which is a big deal to win it even once. But for Smith, it was the second year in a row he had won it. Past (one-time) Hopwood winners include Frank O’Hara, Lawrence Kasdan and Arthur Miller. 

Now gainfully employed as a copywriter — natch — with MRM//McCann, an advertising agency in Birmingham, Mich., Smith still gives props to his high school for getting him this far.

"I don't think it's a coincidence I ended up with a career in writing," he said recently, catching up with his high school alma mater. "Having been taught by the Notre Dame English 'dream team' of Butorac, Davis, Dericho and Bembas, the importance of literature and writing was instilled in me all throughout high school. It wasn't until college that I realized what a head start they had given me. Even now, in my career, I use the skills they taught me on a daily basis."

(We think he was kidding when he then said that if he ever makes it really big, that Notre Dame dream team — "will be getting a cut" — but we'll get it on the record, just in case he wasn't. . .)

During his off hours, when Smith isn't writing creative ad copy for many of MRM//McCann's biggest clients, he is writing, recording and performing music with his brother, Gabe, a 2010 Notre Dame alum, in a duo they call — yes, it's also creative in its own special way — "The Smith Brothers." 

"We put out our first EP in January called Waterford," he said. "It was a lot of fun working with Gabe."

Check out "Waterford" here:

Smith once again cites his high school influence, this time for his and his brother's musical chops.

"A good piece of credit for this is due to Fuzz (choir director Dave Fazzini), who taught both of us in choir and helped us grow as musicians," he said.

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About Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy
Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy is a private, Catholic, independent, coeducational day school located in Oakland County. The school's upper division enrolls students in grades nine through twelve and has been named one of the nation's best 50 Catholic high schools (Acton Institute) four times since 2005. Notre Dame's middle and lower divisions enroll students in jr. kindergarten through grade eight. All three divisions are International Baccalaureate "World Schools." NDPMA is conducted by the Marist Fathers and Brothers and is accredited by the Independent Schools Association of the Central States and the North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement. For more on Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy, visit the school's home page at