Meet the Remarkable Woman Behind Morris Grove’s Gecko Costume

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Stacey Lange with her kids, kids from Morris Grove Elementary and teams she coaches – Woodpeckers (soccer), Blackbirds (soccer) and the Yankees (baseball) and players from previous teams. Photo by Briana Brough

Raised in the Philadelphia suburbs, Stacey Lange graduated from the University of Virginia with a degree in English literature and language. She briefly lived in Durham while her husband Brian was in graduate school at Duke before heading north again. “Then the opportunity came up to move back and we thought, ‘You know what, let’s go plant our flag.’” So six years ago, the family – which now includes Carter, 10, Campbell, 7, Colby, 5 and goldendoodle Hogan – landed in Lake Hogan Farms.

If you’ve got a kid at Morris Grove Elementary, chances are you’ve met Stacey Lange, but you might not have known it was her. She’s the one standing out in the bus lane before school – wearing the school’s gecko costume. But Stacey wasn’t content with the costume that was mistaken for a frog so she raised enough money for a custom suit. She’s committed to suiting up until her youngest leaves elementary school and then she’ll donate it to Morris Grove.

That alone could cement Stacey’s dedication, but she doesn’t stop there. “Our teachers spend more time with my children during their waking hours than I do during the school year so how can you not support them and their efforts?” she asks. “If I can add my enthusiasm and energy to help them out, absolutely.” Whether she’s serving as room parent, planning a teacher appreciation breakfast or presiding over a PTA meeting, Stacey is all in for helping the school. “I’ll be at the elementary school until 2023,” she says. “I’m not going anywhere. Put me to work.”

Stacey’s own parents set the standard for involvement. Her mom coached soccer, her dad coached softball and both were involved with the PTA. “When my kids got to elementary school, I thought, “Of course you join the PTA – that’s what you’re supposed to do,” she recalls. “It just has snowballed from there as far as all the different activities that I’ve gotten involved in.” You’ll find her on the field coaching her youngest two in soccer, preparing for University Presbyterian’s vacation Bible school this summer or planning the next neighborhood get-together. And you can bet she’s adding in some fun to whatever she’s doing from leading the neighborhood Halloween parade to running a dance party-themed soccer practice.

Her drive to be involved stems from the knowledge that her oldest is 10 and has eight years left at home. “When you think about it like that, it’s such a short amount of time so yes, I’m going to dress up as the mascot and high-five the kids as they get off the bus. And yes, I’m going to coach that team because I’ve got the energy and I think I’m going to make it fun,” she states. “Or I’ll dress up as the shark [mascot for swim team] and jump off the diving board because it’s fun.”

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Jessica Stringer

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