northern virginia

Competitors Tackle Climate Change in Foxcroft School’s 12th Annual STEM Challenge

Local schools Wakefield School (second) and Foxcroft (third) earn top finishes in the high school division during the annual science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) competition.

MIDDLEBURG, VA – Bullis School from Potomac, Maryland, and Edlin School from Reston, Virginia, each claimed the top prize in their respective high school and middle school divisions during Foxcroft’s 12th annual STEM Challenge. Designed for middle and high school students, the competition saw 109 girls from 14 schools in Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, D.C., use their knowledge of science, technology, engineering, and math to take on issues like sea level rise, pollinator habitats, recycling, and more as they participated in challenges revolving around this year’s “Be Green” theme. 

The Solar Superstars from Bullis School, composed of Victoria Deal, Jiselle Jenkins, and Victoria Marshall, received a solar-powered robot kit and unique medals designed and fabricated by Foxcroft STEM students in the School’s Innovation Lab as their first-place prize in the high school division. Second place in the high school division went to the Terrific Turbines (Julia Austin, Meira Barnaby, Emily D. Cooper, and Alexandra Fuhs) from Wakefield School in The Plains, Virginia. Foxcroft’s Recycling Rockstars (Ryleigh Borror ’23, Rebecca Cramer ’23, Cameron Hazard ’23, and Sneha Kaylan ’23) took third.

In the middle school division, Edlin School’s Super SuperNovas (Varsha Ayala, Anya Crevits, Lyla Hutchison, and Maya Shreedhar) took home the middle school trophy. Second place went to the Composting Crusaders (Samantha Deibler, Gracie Jacobs, and Catherine Risen) from Norwood School in Bethesda, Maryland. Third place went to the Sustainable Sirens (Susanna Hoopes, Amel Johns, Ava Johnson, and Phoenix Sinclair) from Washington Episcopal School in Bethesda, Maryland.

Energy and enthusiasm filled the campus as the teams worked through five unique challenges. Each year, event sponsor Stryker Corporation brings several of their female engineers to not only administer one of the challenges but also to share their experiences and answer questions from the young competitors during a career panel. The Stryker team’s engineering challenge, “Drop It Like It’s Hot,” involved students evaluating blueprints of a device that separated cans and bottles. 

In the Chemistry Lab at the “Turning the Tide on Sea Level Rise” challenge, competitors investigated the cause of sea level rise in two mini-experiments. They analyzed data on sea level rise temporally (in time) and geographically (in space). Finally, the competitors observed the impact of sea level rise on different types of shorelines and engineered their own shorelines based on their observations. In the Briggs Biology Lab, “Pollinator Paradise” had teams imagine a world where milkweed was extinct and then construct an ideal alternative for pollinators. 

In the Athletic/Student Center at the “It’s Not Easy Being Green” event, students had to harness the power of the wind to complete two tasks. First, they had to build a wind turbine to power a light that would alert the scientific community of the dangers of climate change. Next, they had to create a vehicle that could travel using wind power. These “sail cars” raced across the floor of the Dance Studio, and the winner was the team whose car traveled the furthest. In the math-coding challenge “Recycling Robots,” participants programmed a human robot to navigate a maze and collect eco-friendly materials while avoiding non-recyclables! Teams were exposed to algorithmic thinking and collaborative coding to write the most efficient program and find the optimal routes for their human robots.

Between challenges, students used Kindle Fires supplied by Foxcroft to answer questions about climate change and earn raffle tickets for prizes ranging from gift cards to tech devices. Participants in the middle school competition also took tours of campus and learned a little more about Foxcroft’s focus on girls in STEM during a session with Head of School Cathy McGehee.

A leader in STEM education for girls, Foxcroft recently announced construction on the Mars STEAM Wing to enhance its program to encourage girls to pursue studies in STEAM fields. The School offers an innovative curriculum that addresses challenges facing tomorrow’s workforce and provides relevant and stimulating learning experiences. A signature program at the school, the STEM initiative emphasizes inquiry-based labs, using technology with confidence and ease, and hands-on problem-solving that extends well beyond the classroom. The annual STEM Challenge showcases Foxcroft’s innovative focus on the STEM fields.

Photos courtesy of Christine McCrehin.

Posted on: March 9, 2023

Three Bands You Need to See this Summer and Where

Three Bands You Need to See this Summer and Where

Written by Chelsea Moore

As live music makes its return, music lovers flock to local shows with excitement and maybe a little caution. Live music ushers the return of community and many of our favorite things — dancing under the stars, supporting local breweries and wineries, and turning strangers into friends at live shows. Catch these three local bands across the Northern Virginia area this summer. Trust us when we say: You won’t want to miss this.


Husband and wife duo Amy and Jamie Potter started playing in different bands but decided to combine their musical talents and form The Crooked Angels six years ago. The band’s name is a nod to Emylou Harris and the late Gram Parsons, who created a band called The Fallen Angels.

“It was a cool 70s traditional country with some psychedelic elements,” Jamie said. “[The name ‘The Crooked Angels’ is] not a sinister thing, but I think everybody has real humanity that is good and bad, and we can explore that through music.”

Amy sings and plays guitar, and Jamie plays guitar and the keyboard. While they primarily play local shows, they have performed as far south as Charleston, South Carolina. Their genre spans country, bluegrass, and Americana.

“Music is a universal language,” Jamie said. “Beyond political and religious affiliations, it’s something that cuts across all demographics. You play to your strengths. [It’s] communication without some grand fundamental message. This is what I’m feeling and enjoying, and maybe you connect with that, maybe you don’t.”

Outside of the band, the two have unique and exciting careers. Jamie writes novels for young adults, with newly published “Thomas Creeper and the Gloomsbury Secret” through Regal House Publishing. He was recently interviewed on Good Morning America and ABC News. Amy is a master healer and practices reiki.

“Music is the joy,” Jamie said. “We have our gears going in different areas, and we come together and are in the community. It’s great to come out of the cloister and be in the world again.”

Where To Catch The Crooked Angels This Summer:

Live Music at Lost Barrel Brewing
Fri., July 9, 5-8 p.m.
36138 John Mosby Hwy, Middleburg, Va. Join Lost Barrel Brewing in Middleburg every Friday for live music from 5-8 p.m. Happy hour is from 4 – 6 p.m.

Live Music at Dirt Farm Brewing Fri., July 16, 4-7 p.m.
18701 Foggy Bottom Rd, Bluemont, Va. Meet us at Dirt Farm Brewing for beer and music.

Live Music at Slater Run Vineyard Fri., July 23, 5:30 – 8:30 p.m. 1500 Crenshaw Rd, Upperville, Va. Join us at Slater Run Vineyard for wine and music.

Live Music at Slater Run Vineyard Fri., Aug. 27, 5:30 – 8:30 p.m. 1500 Crenshaw Rd, Upperville, Va. Join us at Slater Run Vineyard for wine and music.

Learn more about The Crooked Angels and find details on upcoming shows by visiting


What began as a two-person fiddle and guitar duo has turned into the 5-person Short Hill Mountain Boys. The founders of the band live in Lovettsville and named the group after the Short Hill Mountain. Primarily a cover band, the group plays throwback covers people haven’t heard before.

“Most of our stuff has not been on pop charts ever,” John Bestwick, the band’s co-founder, said. “It’s fresh, new material that people will hear. It’s all fun music. It has a definite bluegrass background and roots. It’s got country, swing, jazz, folk, soul, and Mo-town music.”

The band is composed of John Bestwick, who plays guitar and is lead singer; Joe Hammett, who plays guitar, mandolin, and does vocals; Evan Bell, who plays bass; Erik Burnham, who plays the mandolin, harmonica, and does vocals; and Ben Walters on fiddle and vocals.

“We just love playing music together,” Bestwick said. “That’s the tie that binds us. That’s what I love most: the camaraderie and musicianship with some of my best friends.”

The band members all have full-time jobs, but the band is their creative outlet. “Music is a passion of ours, and we are always going to do this,” Bestwick said.

Where To Catch The Short Hill Mountain Boys This Summer:

Low Country Boil On The Mountain Sat., July 17 from 5-8 p.m.
South Mountain Creamery
8305 Bolivar Rd, Middletown, Md. Bring your friends and family and kick back to the sounds of Short Hill Mountain Boys, who will strum into the night with a blend of bluegrass, old-time, Cajun, classic country, and folk music. Tickets available at

Live Music by Short Hill Mountain Boys at Flying Ace Farm
Flying Ace Farm, 40950 Flying Ace Ln, Lovettsville, Va.
Sun., July 18 from 2 – 5 p.m.
Join us for live music by Short Hill Mountain Boys.

Bluegrass on the Half Shell
Sat., Aug. 21
Henway Hard Cider,
18780 Foggy Bottom Rd, Bluemont, Va. Join us at Henway Hard Cider for a full day of local bluegrass bands that will have you flatfooting in no time! Tickets required.

Find the Short Hill Mountain Boys on Facebook, where they share upcoming shows.


Scythian was founded over a decade ago when brothers Alexander and Danylo Fedoryka began singing in Old Town Alexandria as street performers. Since their humble beginnings, they have grown into a successful folk-rock band, performing across Ireland and the United States.

Alexander and Danylo are first-generation sons of Ukrainian immigrants. Scythian, named after Ukrainian nomads, has four band members: Alexander Fedoryka, who plays the fiddle, mandolin, bass, and does vocals; Danylo Fedoryka, who plays rhythm guitar, accordion, and does vocals; Johnny Rees on drums; and Ethan Dean who plays electric and upright bass and does vocals. Their music spans the Americana, bluegrass, country, folk, and world genres, finding its sweet spot in folk-rock.

During COVID, the band live-streamed shows every two weeks to a cumulative audience of over 600,000. To support the band, fans bought t-shirts and sent them money over Venmo. But now, as live music returns, they are eager for fans to come out in person.

For the first time since 2019, they are hosting Appaloosa, their annual music festival, on August 13-15 in Front Royal. The festival has hosted Grammy-award-winning artists and was voted the best music festival in D.C.

“The festival is super family-friendly, but still hip,” Danylo said. “We want people to come out, and we want people to believe in music again, and believe in community,” Danylo said.

Tickets vary in pricing, from general admission to VIP tickets that include luxury chalets for glamping at the festival. This year’s festival will be smaller than previous years, but with 15-20 artists performing, attendees are still in for a treat.

“We are keeping it very affordable because a lot of people don’t feel comfortable because of COVID,” Danylo said. “It’s going to be one of the most reasonably priced festivals out there.”

With ample outdoor space, the festival is the perfect way for people to “dip their toes in the water and get back into social environments” while still being socially distant, Danylo said.

“It’s not a guarantee that live music is going to come back unless people take risks,” he said. “If you ever get in a car accident, you have to get in the car as soon as possible, or it reaffirms that you’re scared. With music, we have to throw these festivals, or otherwise, people are going to get comfortable in their fear.”

He pointed out that before COVID, live music was at an all-time low. He credits the slowness with the ease of Netflix, which provides entertainment without needing to leave the house. But he believes live music is going to come back stronger.

“The type of appreciation people are going to have for live music is going to be a throwback, like the 60s again,” he said. “It’s an electric vibe. It’s kind of my suspicion that this will be our best year.” 

Where To Catch Scythian This Summer:

Music at Arrowbrook Centre Park
Sat., July 17 at 7:30 p.m. Arrowbrook Centre Park, 2351 Field Point Rd., Herndon, Va. Gather with your friends, family, and neighbors to dance till the sun goes down and picnic under the stars as you enjoy this free show.

Appaloosa Music Festival Fri., Aug. 13-15 at 3 p.m. Skyline Ranch Resort, 751 Mountain Rd., Front Royal, Va. Appaloosa will be a joyful weekend that will show the world that live music is not dead. We suggest getting your tickets early.

Learn more about Scythian by visiting, and get more details on the Appaloosa Music Festival by visiting ML

This article first appeared in the July 2021 Issue.

Hollywood Meets Hunt Country: Inside the Weiss Family Mural

Written by Shayda Windle

Ever since Monica Weiss and her husband, Michael, have known each other, she’s endearingly been known as “Hollywood” to him. So, when the couple decided last February that it was time for a home renovation, it’s no surprise that Monica enlisted the most talented remodelers, designers, and artists in the area for help. Their 1823 Victorian-style home in Hamilton had already undergone several renovations when they purchased it in 2006, but after many years of hosting guests for Thanksgiving and other special events, the pair decided it was time to expand the space a bit more. 

Image Above: Patricia Taylor Holz explains the process of rendering sketches from Deb Morrow’s photographs. Photo by Shayda Windle.

            Monica says prior to the renovation, they never had a foyer so when the opportunity to decorate came along, she wanted to make it special. She knew she wanted something that was reminiscent of Hunt Country, and thought she’d be able to find it with new wallpaper. She set out on a mission to the Paint and Paper Place in Purcellville hoping she would find it there. When the salesperson told her they didn’t have what she was looking for, she asked if they knew anyone that painted murals. To her luck, local multi-media artist, Patricia Taylor Holz, was working at the store that day. 

           It turns out Monica struck gold upon meeting Taylor Holz, whose body of work includes clients from Disney, MTV, CBS, Phillip Morris, and Jim Henson, just to name a few. As a multi-talented set designer and artist whose experience with large-scale art spans every industry imaginable, it was clear Monica had found the perfect person for the final addition to her home renovation project: a mural that would depict the family’s love of Hunt Country, and the attributes that make this area so unique. It was also important to Monica that the mural would be personalized and include the ones they love the most — their dogs. 

           Taylor Holz visited the Weiss home to discuss Monica’s vision in more detail and quickly noticed the home had an antique aesthetic, with a wide variety of old-fashioned books, furniture, and décor on display. It was then that Taylor Holz began envisioning a historic equestrian and hunting scene reminiscent of the Civil war era with sepia and neutral tones to give it the right look and feel.  

Image Above: The final mural; photo by Shayda Windle.

           One caveat to the project was that it needed to be completed in advance of the next family event in a month. Taylor Holz knew the job would require more than one person so she enlisted local artist Penny Hauffe, whom she met through the local art community, for help to complete the job. Taylor Holz says she wanted to work with someone who “had positive energy, because, there is a lot of emotion that goes into artwork that’s put on display in your home and projected out to the viewers.” Taylor Holz says she considers her projects to be a “labor of love” and that she wanted to work with a “midwife who would help her deliver a bundle of joy” to their new clients. Hauffe was naturally the best fit for the role. 

           Hauffe already had street credibility with murals completed at The Leesburg Auto Wash, Leesburg’s King Street, One Life Fitness building in Brambleton, and the private dining room at the Goodstone Inn in Middleburg. The added bonus for Taylor Holz was Hauffe’s cheerful disposition and positive energy that she brought into the process. 

           The two began the creative process by searching for inspiration in photographs. Luckily, Taylor Holz had met local equine photographer, Deb Morrow, when she came into Western Loudoun’s art scene and they were Facebook friends. It was by chance that Morrow posted some of her recent work on Facebook and let her friends know they were free to use it for their artistic endeavors with her permission. 

Image Above: Patricia Taylor Holz (on left) and homeowner Monica Weiss (on right). Photo by Shayda Windle.

           When Taylor Holz began sifting through Morrow’s work, she realized her equine photographs would be key in creating the hunt scene the Weiss’ were looking for. From there, she gathered the photo sources – from sidesaddle photographs by Morrow to photos of the Morven Park Mansion, Bluemont Vineyard, and Bear’s Den, and began working on the renderings for the mural. 

           She then created a concept of a 19th-century hand-colored sepia illustration on parchment with “just hints of opaque brown, black, red and white on the riders, animals, and dogwoods,” Taylor Holz says. She goes on to say that she wanted a transparent, aged quality to the whole mural, “like ink fading & flaking off old parchment,” and used a variety of mediums and techniques to achieve the look, including a palm sander for the distressed aesthetic. She also used a monochromatic underpainting technique called “grisaille” on the horses and riders, which she says, “involves lightly sketching a form, glazing it over completely, and then sculpting dimension by removing highlight areas with a rag or brush.”

           The final result has ended up to be nothing short of fascinating, so much so, that Monica tells us “it feels like you’re walking into the land of Narnia.” Guests have been so amazed by its intricacies that they will sit down with a glass of wine to stare at the scene for hours.  Upon entering the foyer, viewers are presented with a winter scene of two Victorian-styled ladies riding sidesaddle, which wraps around to a larger scene that includes more riders on horseback, overlooking the hills and vineyards of Hunt Country with the Weiss family dogs looking down from Bear’s Den. At the very end of the mural, Taylor Holz and Hauffe included a vintage, old-fashioned painting of the Morven Park Mansion in spring with Virginia’s state flower, the dogwood, in bloom. 

Image Above: Deb Morrow’s sidesaddle photo, shown top left. The rendering process, top right. The murals (bottom images). Photo by Patricia Taylor Holz..

           With so much talent to be shared between these women, there has been no shortage of interest in their work. Taylor Holz and Hauffe enjoyed their first collaboration together so much that they’ve continued working together on another mural for the Masters of Foxhounds Association of North America. Be on the lookout for an upcoming story about their next big project with the MFHA. ML

To view more of Patricia Taylor Holz’s work, visit her website at For more about Penny Hauffe, visit To see more of Deb Morrow’s photography, visit

This article first appeared in the June 2021 Issue.

On the Hunt… For Side Saddle Attire

By Summer Stanley

Imagine Lady Mary sitting on her horse appearing refined, graceful and elegantly dressed for the occasion. We love her, we hate her, but mostly we adore her polished looks. Last month, Downton Abbey fans said goodbye to a show in which our longings for a stylishly poised era were more than fulfilled.

Because of the recent fascination, it’s no surprise that even more women are being drawn into the lost art and sport of riding aside – in a side saddle, after nearly a century of riding astride. Of course, the UK has revived the tradition a bit ahead of the US, but we’re more than happy to catch up with three races alone planned for this spring.

The 2nd annual Mrs. George C. Everhart Memorial Invitational Side Saddle Chase kicks off the 50th annual running of the Loudoun Hunt Point to Point Races at the Oatlands Historic House and Gardens on Sunday April 17. This race follows the Cheshire Hunt in Pennsylvania held in March, and precedes the High Hope Steeplechase in Kentucky in May. Be prepared to be impressed!

A lady’s ensemble, referred to as a habit, generally depends on the riding discipline, and for fox hunting, it depends on the season and your hunt’s attire guidelines. The basic rule of thumb for riding aside is somewhat similar to what’s worn from the waist up for contemporary attire; a well fitted, perhaps cutaway styled jacket, vest, shirt and stock tie. With the addition of an apron in a matching or coordinating fabric you then have a habit, which is most traditional for women riding aside.

For formal days, the smart and tailored rider wears a habit in a darker color. Black, navy or charcoal with a canary or tattersall waistcoat (vest) and white or cream stock tie. To complete the look, a ladies’ top hat, with veil is proper for married women. Women who are not married may wear a bowler without a veil. Of course a safety rated helmet with a chin strap is always correct and often required. For cubbing days in the hunt field or for informal hunt outtings one might see habits in subtle checks and tweeds patterns. Button down shirts and a man’s ties vs. a stock tie or even nowadays a stock tie in an elegant paisley or checkered pattern would be considered correct. Brown gloves (for a woman who is not widowed), a hunt whip and a sandwich case make for a lovely look!

Locally, TriCounty, Feeds, Fashions, Finds in Marshall provides consultations for ordering side saddle attire directly from English label Alexander James, offering ready to wear items in the finest material from some of the oldest mills and weavers in Britain. Middleburg Tack Exchange has been in business for 25 years, specializing in both new and used English riding tack and apparel, including consignment habits and accessories. Alexander James will be featured at TriCounty on May 27 and 28. For information or an appointment email [email protected]  

Alternatively, some side saddle riders might prefer more historically correct and period inspired dress, whether for show, parades or historical reenactments in which case these habits and costumes are often purchased vintage, or custom made. Here you might see more vivid colors, varied fabrics and elaborate details.

Cindy Westbroek, owner of Wildhorse Fashion in Utah, has been making side saddle clothing for over a decade. Combining her passion for horses, living history and sewing she began making the clothes when she started riding aside, and quickly discovered there were very few affordable resources for acquiring these pieces. Specializing in period riding habits of the 1800s, she creates everything from late 1700s to modern day styling.

“I take great pride in every piece I make or have ever made. Each one takes on a personality of it’s own as it evolves,” Cindy says.

Across the pond, the Vintage Tack Room, in Midhurst, West Sussex, England, was established in 2013 to curate, buy and sell the best in vintage riding clothes.

“The company has grown enormously since starting and now is the first call for any hunting man or woman, and for any side saddle rider, to either sell their cherished coats and habits, or to buy a ‘new’ one. Although by new, we can mean as old as 150 years!” says shop owner, Mia Woodford.

The growth in side saddle has been so fast, that they have set up a separate web site to cater to this special audience. The Vintage Sidesaddle Company, already running on Facebook, will open its doors officially in May. For those equestriennes ready to ride aside and replicate the romance of the Victorian and Edwardian eras, joining the likes of Elizabeth Taylor, Grace Kelly and Elsa Martinelli (all filmed in the side saddle), it’s time to look the part!

Where to hunt in Northern Virginia and the US:

Cherry Blossom Farm LLC, Middleburg, VA; 5402872034;

Middleburg Tack Exchange, 103 West Federal St., Middleburg, VA; 5406876608;

TriCounty Feeds, Fashions, Finds, 7408 John Marshall Hwy, Marshall, VA; 5403641891; in partnership with Alexander James

The Side Saddlery, 554 Morley Ct., Belford, NJ; 7329628747;

Recollections, Inc., 7956 County Road 451, Hawks, MI; 18004525925;

Custom & Tailoring Services:

Wildhorse Fashion, Clearfield, Utah; 8014586488;

Tracy Michele Designs, Neptune, NJ; 7328047088;

Ewbank Clothiers, 6807A Lord Fairfax Hwy, Berryville; 5405149565; Facebook

Highcliffe Clothiers, 112 West Washington St., Middleburg; 5406875633;

Where to hunt in the UK:

Alexander James, 6 Mossfield Rd., Pendlebury, Manchester; +44 (0)161 793 6340;

The Vintage Sidesaddle Co., Hoyle Ln., Midhurst, West Sussex; 01798 867517;;; Facebook

The Old Hunting Habit & Co., Mellor Rd., New Mills Derbyshire; 07855 433 770;

Side Saddles, Burnt Hill, Thatcham, West Berkshire; 07770 954 367;

Showtime Supplies, Forest Barn, Salem, Carmarthenshire; 01558 824 163;

Side Saddle Lady, 60 Argyll Rd., Pennsylvania, Exetor, Devon, England; +44 1392 271080;

Photos provided by:

Nico Morgan Photography (Dianas of the Chase, photographed), Wildhorse Fashion, Cindy Westbroek (photographed with her horse, Tanka), The Vintage Sidesaddle Company, and Middleburg Photo