Back in the Polygon

Interviews with former Editors-In-Chief about their experiences on the Polygon and their lives following high school

How much time did you devote to the Polygon? 


John Bissell ’52

A highlight was the excursion every issue to the printer in Manhattan for final proofing and overseeing the crusty old printer who ran the presses. Much more dramatic than today’s electronic system! This was followed by recruiting a team of kids to fold a ton of papers back at Poly.


William Golden MD ’71

We published 24 times a year and used old hot type, letterpress technology. After working on the copy and layout from 4 pm-7 pm three nights a publishing week, we would drop the copy off to the printer at a small private printing press in downtown Brooklyn. Few people believe we had that kind of production over the course of an academic year. Still have the old copies in my memento closet.


Jason Goldberg ‘94 

Those were quite transformative years for the Polygon, under the leadership and guidance of John Rankin.  We upgraded to some fairly advanced Mac computers (at the time!). I spent a great deal of my time working on the paper, improving quality, format, content, and frequency.  


Isabel Tessier ‘15

By the time I was editor-in-chief, I was spending a lot of time working on the paper. I remember many long hours spent in the Communications office with Andrew, my co-editor-in-chief, working somewhat frantically on Adobe InDesign, a wonderful but incredibly frustrating program.


Do you remember any specific issues or articles that were important? 


Robert L. Siegle ’59 MD

The most memorable event of the year was our humor issue which detailed the overthrow of the administration and faculty via the student revolution led by the legendary Sky Sphogadelli, the figment of our collective imagination. The subsequent Monday morning chapel was concluded by the headmaster, Mr. Scull, reminding everyone that counter-revolutions can be bloodier than revolutions. That was probably the only time that he referred to the paper in all my years at Poly.


Tim Hollister ‘74 

When I was the editor-in-chief was when co-education was first being seriously considered by the school so we had some opinion pieces and editorials about that. The most famous thing that we did was we had a feature story about a brand new singer who was rising in the entertainment world named Bette Midler. I think we were probably the first newspaper of any type that had a feature story about her. That was pretty cool because she was just starting out. We feel like we scooped the world on bringing Bette Midler to attention. 


Dr. George Small ‘80

I started writing about how I thought that there was too much emphasis in general on sports, as opposed to academics, and I thought that it was getting worse. The headmaster, William Williams, came down to the original Polygon room and he said words to the effect of that it wasn’t necessarily in the best interest of the school. I had no political sense at age 17. I didn’t understand that maybe a prospective parent might look at this and see that there are these controversies here and maybe I don’t want to send my kids here. I was rather shocked by the reaction. And I think that was a kick in the head to what the world was like.


Isabel Tessier ‘15

As editors-in-chief, Andrew and I wrote about a Chapel speaker who was a police officer, and was really intending to talk to us about unconventional career choices, but ended up getting a lot of questions from students about violence, racism, and corruption within the NYPD. It was 2014-2015, so right in the wake of Eric Garner’s death and the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement. We wanted to write that story because it was an example of students really flipping the script and saying “no, this is what’s important to us, and this is what we’re going to talk about.”


How did your time on the Polygon influence your life in college and beyond? 


John Bissell ’52

I continued my journalistic interests in college, when I was elected to the Board of The Yale Daily News. Helping to create a daily newspaper pretty much consumed all of my free time… especially in the wee hours of the morning when everyone else was asleep. But what a great experience! You really stretch your capabilities when you have 10 minutes to write a headline that must fit into a required space. It was my newspaper experience that ultimately led me into a related career: advertising and marketing. And it all began and flourished with The Polygon.


William Golden MD ’71

I had a summer job with the Brooklyn Phoenix in college. I served as newsletter editor for a national medical student organization that opened all sorts of doors in health policy. I recruited a faculty colleague at my medical school and created a monthly column on clinical practice guidelines for a national internal medicine newspaper (circulation 120,000) that ran for 12 years. I created a monthly feature article for the state medical journal on health care quality. So yes, I often tell folks I have journalism as a feature of my background. 


Tim Hollister ‘74 

I continued as a reporter for my college newspaper, which was at Wesleyan. I think the best thing that the Polygon did was help me to write and edit under pressure. When someone was ready to get on the subway to go to the printer, that was the deadline. You couldn’t hold them up because the trains didn’t run all night. In those days you basically had to get it right the first time or you were gonna miss your deadline.

Susannah Vining ‘96

I didn’t participate in any journalism during college but my first job after graduating was the position of Assistant to the Editor-in-Chief at Glamour magazine. I was at Conde Nast for 2 years. From there, I became an Investigator at the Civilian Complaint Review Board, the NYC civilian agency that investigates complaints against police officers. Although that wasn’t strictly journalism, it was investigative in nature and involved writing reports and recommendations for each complaint so I see it as a natural extension of my previous journalism work. That work piqued my interest in the law so from there, I went to law school. So although I did not become a journalist, I think that my Polygon experience was instrumental in guiding me to my career as a lawyer.


Isabel Tessier ‘15

The newspaper was one of the most important things I did in college, and it was all because of my time at the Polygon, so it definitely had a huge impact! I started as a news writer for The Amherst Student, our school paper, and then worked as a news editor and editor-in-chief.