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Hitmaker Mike Posner brings video shoot to his Birmingham alma mater

@graffonmusic, Facebook.com/Gary Graff on Music

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BEVERLY HILLS -- Pop hitmaker Mike Posner went back to high school on Sunday, Sept. 22, incorporating Birmingham Groves High School, his alma mater, part of the video for his next single.

About 400 Groves students, including the pom-pon and cheerleading squads, showed up for the shoot in the school's gymnasium, dancing and vamping to "The Top," a song Posner plans to release in late October and will also include on an EP called "First Page" and an album called "Pages," due out in 2014. He and award-winning video director Jon Jon Augustavo spent Saturday shooting with Detroit rapper Big Sean -- Posner's close friend and a guest on the song -- at Lafayette Coney Island and the Spirit of Detroit statue downtown, as well as at the Palace of Auburn Hills.

They'll be filming at Comerica Park on Monday, Sept. 23, and are also shooting in Los Angeles, but being able to incorporate Groves into the video was a highlight for the 2006 graduate.

"It definitely was a full-circle moment, one I'm grateful for," Posner, 25, who ran track and cross-country at Groves and also graduated from Duke University, said after the shoot was wrapped. "I had to keep reminding myself I was just a student here, sitting in those bleachers and now I get to do amazing things like this.

"It was just a special event for us to be able to shoot (the video) here, and in our home town. We had a blast doing it."

Posner -- best known for his Top 10 hit "Cooler Than Me" and for writing and producing tracks for Justin Bieber, Big Time Rush, Labrinth and others --

said "The Top" is "about really having high goals and having confidence that you're gonna get 'em." Augustavo said he wanted to use that personal message to reflect the singer/rapper/songwriter/producer's connection to his home town.

"The theme is Mike showcasing where he's from," Augustavo said. "He's proud to be from Detroit, so we're going to places that are important to him, like (Groves). I wanted it to make it really naturally and capture his love for the city."

There was plenty of love for Posner at Groves on Sunday, as the students listened attentively to directions from Augustavo and from Posner's manager, Patrick Cline, who coached the throng through some loose choreography. Posner himself kept a smile on his face throughout the session, offering plenty of encouragement and chatting to those close to him -- and later holding a Q&A during which he talked about his favorite teachers and his best cross-country time (18.01 or 18.07, he said), gave hugs to a couple of female students who asked for them, sang a little bit a capella and even received an invitation to homecoming from a trio seated at the top of the bleachers.

"Someone asked me to prom, so I guess homecoming's still open," Posner answered.

He noted that he came to appreciate Groves and its diverse student body after he graduated and moved away to college. "It's hard to be grateful for this place when you're in it," said Posner, who during the shoot used a six-foot-plus martial arts trophy handed to him by Groves teacher Bill McLaren as a prop. "But when I finished and went to Duke, I realized how amazing this place was." He also told the students that, "When you see me up here, having fun, living my dream, I don't feel any different than you guys...When you listen to your heart -- that sounds cliche, but some things are cliche for a reason -- and you follow your dreams, things just work out."

Three of Groves' video production students -- seniors Spencer Rohmett and Alec Barnes and junior Edward Cribbs -- got to be part of the dream as extra hands with Augustavo's crew on Sunday; Cribbs, who said he's had three textbooks that Posner also had, even got to be a stand-in as the director set up one of the shots. "It's pretty fantastic," Rohmett said. "It's fun to get a little taste of it."

Groves principal Catherine Hurley smiled as brightly as Posner throughout the shoot, enjoying how much fun her students were having. "What a thrill for these kids," she said. "This is what they'll remember about high school. Forget Algebra."

Posner, who's now a Los Angeles resident but whose family still resides in the Birmingham School District, is planning to return to Groves on Tuesday, Sept. 24, for more Q&A time with students and faculty.

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