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The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

Common Roots aims to improve its school presence

You might have seen multi-colored paper leaves decorating a poster at the top of the Quad steps. Maybe you’ve been approached by a friendly student who wanted to know about your hobbies. These are both part of an effort from Common Roots to further cultivate a safe and happy student culture.

“Common Roots is trying to get [its] name out there and in doing so, we hope that we can tell students, ‘Hey there is someone out there you can talk to, there’s a place that you can hang out and its safe,’” said senior Edwin Chen, who is a member of Common Roots. “I think increasing our campus presence is a huge step for us.”

Two major activities Common Roots will focus on for the rest of the year are “weekly missions” and working with the Application Developer’s Club to create a Common Roots app, which will allow students to communicate with peer counselors and CASSY counselors.

“We are having weekly missions to encourage interaction on campus,” said senior Anshul Aggarwal, president of Common Roots. “This week’s mission is to try to do something positive in the community. It could be anything small, like holding the door or carrying someone’s bag. All it needs to be is something to help ease someone’s day.”

In December, the Giving Tree event was an effort to let all students participate in supporting their fellow students. Club members spent their lunch with pens and paper leaves at the top of the Quad steps. To counterbalance the stress brought on by finals week, students wrote positive messages of support and taped them to a poster of the Common Roots tree.

“It was amazing to see the tree grow so fast over the week,” Aggarwal said. “When students came up during breaks to see what their peers had wrote, I felt that we were having an impact. To me, the tree seemed to connect people. Be it motivational thoughts, a teacher people could trust in or a funny quote, the ideas people put on the tree were unifying.”

Outside of the club, Common Roots is developing an app that makes connecting students and counselors quick and easily accessible. Common Roots members will be assigned half-hour shifts to be available to communicate through the app.

The idea behind the app is simple; however, Common Roots has run into some challenges along the way. For example, an anonymous user expressing suicidal intentions may need immediate professional attention. To overcome this barrier, the creators developed a feature where a CASSY counselor can be added immediately to a chat.

Aggarwal is also exploring the idea of extending the app to Gunn High School. Ideally, the app will be available by the end of the month.  

Common Roots is a relatively young club, having only been created three years ago, but organizers say it has remained strong and wants to get stronger.

“We have an event planned in two weeks that will be interesting for students,” Aggarwal said. “We're keeping that under wraps for now, [and are] generally just trying to spread good vibes on campus.”

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