In 1970, Harry van Mierlo became rector of the Rijnlands Lyceum and with his arrival, the 1970s, the roaring seventies, stormed into the school. Everything was going to be different and the new Mammoet Act made a lot possible. His motto was: we do it together! That meant no one- or two-man management, but a broad school management with five young thirty-somethings as deputy principals, almost all of whom were appointed by teachers and pupils through elections.

Together. That meant a lot of consultation with all sectors in the school, including students. The president of the student council had a full hour of consultation with the rector every week and he found that difficult, because the well-spoken students always had a long list of witty remarks and great initiatives. Harry eagerly embraced any plans that bubbled up from that meeting and, where possible, turned them into activities. Of course again after extensive consultation with his school management committee. When the pupils of VWO 4 were worried about the failure of the sugar beet harvest, a convoy of buses stood in front of the school at 6 am the next morning to transport the 100 concerned helpers to Zeeland. Unfortunately, those buses never left, because that night the state of emergency was lifted.
Young teachers, who wanted to make use of the new possibilities for their subject, also found a willing ear for their experiments with Harry. Everything was possible. If the social studies teacher wanted stools in the classroom instead of regular chairs and tables, stools would be available!
Was it never too much?
Harry and his school management committee were steaming ahead, it seemed.
Not for the young teachers, but the older guard sometimes got tired of it. He had that, we didn’t always notice that immediately.
I therefore remember a poetic letter from the French section, which ended desperately with the words: Give us some time to weed our own garden.

The school had always been a real culture school and Harry intensified this and most initiatives from outside and inside were therefore heartily honored. For example, the then unknown Youp van t Hek gave cabaret lessons in the auditorium on Friday afternoon. The school trips to London and Paris had to be thrown out because the zeitgeist called for training weeks, in which you got to know yourself and others, whether you were a student or a teacher. And we all came back to the school purified.
When The Hague contacted Harry to establish an international department, Harry was not immediately in favor, because the business community seemed to have a strong hand in this. But when the air was cleared, he helped lay the foundations of what is now the International Baccalaureate with great conviction.

Harry knew many arts, but the most remarkable was the art of being ubiquitous. He was present all evening at every school party or extracurricular activity, mingling with people and making small talk everywhere. At least, that’s what we all thought.
Few knew that he had a town council meeting in Katwijk that evening and had slipped away during intermission or at a less interesting point. After a quick car ride, he showed himself at high speed in all places in the school for half an hour, spoke to everyone and then quickly returned to Katwijk.

“We do it together” was his motto. But he also attached the absolute condition to this: having an eye for each other, the warm we-feeling.
And Harry was an example in that too. A warm person who, if necessary, warmed up a teacher’s numb hands in the morning before she entered the classroom.
His abbreviation in the administration of the school was Mo and that is how he was often referred to by colleagues.

Mo deserves a place of honor in the row of rectors of the Rijnlands.
As a good friend, he will always be in our thoughts.

Cor Geljon