Taking pride of place outside the headteacher’s office at Harris Academy in South Norwood is a poem by the grime superstar, Stormzy.
Stormzy or as he was better known at school, Michael Omari, has certainly not been forgotten by the academy he attended as a teenager.
In fact, the 23-year-old – who hails from Thornton Heath in Croydon – is fondly remembered by his former music teacher Rebecca Blake, who says he excelled at his studies and even considered applying to study at the University of Oxford.
Blake, speaking exclusively to Eastlondonlines about Omari’s time at Harris Academy, remembers an outgoing and intelligent student.
She said: “Michael grew in confidence as Stanley Technical School transformed into Harris Academy South Norwood.
“His academic studies were important to him and he was lucky enough to be extremely bright and skilled in many subjects.
“In particular, his creative writing and dramatic ability shone through. He was spotted by Lord Harris as a talented young man and at points Michael considered applying for Oxford University.”
She said that they clashed initially yet, despite this, she “continuously challenged and believed in him.”
And clearly her hard work paid off. Blake said she was “incredibly proud” of the musician and is pleased that he remains true to himself and what he has always stood for.
The school as a whole are also very proud of Omari. Blake explained: “His poem – a very powerful piece using eloquent literacy – is still hung outside the head’s office.
“And his A-Level monologue performance is shown to drama groups as an example of an A grade performance.”
Blake added that, whilst students enjoy Omari’s music, they also understand that for the musician his ambition to succeed was about more than just fame.
“The students are very aware that he ‘grew up’ at Harris Academy and that he enjoyed his time here.
“It’s also really good though for them to see how academic he was so that they understand that the fame is not what it is all about.”
The teacher added: “But of course his music is extremely popular with them and they feel proud to attend a school he succeeded in.”
And it’s clear that like Blake, Omari remembers his time at school fondly too.
Earlier this month, the musician paid for a billboard – a five minute walk from the school – with lyrics from one of his latest tracks, Cold.
The billboard reads: “All my young black kings rise up, this is our year” and is part of a larger marketing campaign launched across London by the artist to promote the release of his debut album ‘Gang Signs and Prayer’, which topped the UK album charts earlier this month.
Stormzy turned his hand to music in July 2014 and released his debut EP ‘Dreamers Disease’ the same year.
Later that year, he won Best Grime Act at the MOBO awards and became the first unsigned rapper to perform on Later with Jools Holland.
Recently, Stormzy has enjoyed success and helped to deliver grime to the masses having performed with singer songwriter Ed Sheeran at the BRITs last month.
Stormzy will embark on a sold-out UK tour later this year.