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Spring 2020
New England Crane School Quarantine Madness

By Anna DeBattiste

We know that many, if not most, of our customers are considered essential and thus are still working. We probably could have considered ourselves essential too. But we decided in mid-March that putting strangers together in a room was irresponsible right now, so we shut down. Many of you have asked us if we can put our prep courses online, and of course we could do that. But we can’t test people online, so it doesn’t really get us very far. As of right now we plan to resume classes in mid-May, and you can check out our schedule of public classes at the end of the newsletter.

So, like many other people around the world right now, we’ve been sitting at home for about five weeks. I am a pretty frequent traveler so I was stir crazy within a week. When the lockdowns and cancelled flights first began to hit, I was in the process of traveling from the Conexpo trade show in Las Vegas to Central African Republic and the Congo, where I had planned to trek in the jungle and see lowland gorillas and forest elephants. I was stopped in my tracks during a layover in Morocco, and there I stayed for a week until the U.S. embassy arranged evacuation flights for stuck Americans. Once home I was under strict self-quarantine guidelines from the CDC, and that’s when the madness began. I discovered that the reason my house is so unorganized is NOT because I don’t have time to clean it. Evidently, I just don’t feel like cleaning it. I was able to entertain myself for the first week or two by catching up on my travel blog articles from Morocco and other previous trips. Then I began talking to furniture and kitchen appliances. The living room couch is a flight attendant, and the dishwasher is a hotel desk clerk, and the refrigerator is my favorite; he’s a tour guide, and he narrates my journey around the house whenever I get really bored. He points out all the interesting features and history of my office and bedroom furniture, which have not yet begun talking to me. 

talking to fridge

Me and my tour guide, also known as the refrigerator…

Last week I asked the rest of the NECS team to tell me how they’re dealing with quarantine madness, and here is what they told me.


Frank Donahue, NCCCO instructor:
“Being a baby boomer, and never experiencing anything like this, I have to say it is an interesting and trying time.

My wife and I have known each other for more than 50 years. We celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary last year. Now, I love my wife dearly. But this business of staying at home 24/7 for the last few months is definitely putting a new twist on our relationship.

Thank goodness for the internet, email, Facebook, cell phones and Zoom. We’re able to stay in touch with our friends, children and grandchildren. We recently had a virtual family dinner, and next weekend we’re planning a virtual family birthday party.  But they don’t replace a good hug.

I’m now getting a chance to catch up on my “honey-do” list. The problem is, when I cross an item off the list, my wife, who now has more time to sit and dream, comes up with two more items to replace it. And because of stay-at-home orders the building supply stores keep running low on inventory.  So, the honey-do list just gets longer and longer.
On the bright side, the ice is still out and I can do some fishing!”

Tough to concentrate on the honey-do list when you have this view outside.


Mark Kenney, NCCER instructor:
“I built a Lego crane! It took ten or twelve hours over several weeks, required 1170 pages of instructions, and consists of 4057 pieces. It’s fully functional, and in case you’re interested, look for Lego kit number 42082. I finished it just in time for my birthday on April 20th.”

“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.”  – Henry Ford Sr




Stephanie Dent, NCCER written examiner and administrative assistant:
“I have heard of many people seeing the worst come out of them and their family members during quarantine. My heart goes out to them and I sincerely hope that they can endure these times and find a light at the end of the tunnel.

As for me, however, I think that quarantine might be bringing out some of my better qualities of vigilance and dutifulness. (Don't ask my kids or hubby, though! They like to call it OCD.) And, thank goodness, I was already equipped with my awesome purple hard hat that Mark ordered for me. I've found so many ways to use it!

Here, in Vermont, folks seem really keen to pressure each other to be as cautious as possible (and that's putting it lightly). So, I first realized that I could show my dedication by upping the ante - I'll see your face mask and raise you a hard hat! I immediately saw the previously disdainful looks at my bare face without a mask change to looks of awe and wonder as I covered my nose, mouth, and head!

I figure, why stop there? Safety first, always, right? Now, it's become my thing. I love wearing my purple hard hat when I'm grocery shopping, driving, doing dishes, building chicken coops, and even playing homemade board games with my kids - you really never know when one of those apples is going to hop out if the bucket and hit you on top of the head - now, do you?

Sending everyone my best wishes for health and safety. Hope to see you all again, soon!”


Me and my purple plastic hardhat


  New England Crane School
Spring Class Schedule (we hope)

May 22, 2020
Qualified Signal Person and Basic Rigging class, Burlington, VT

May 25, 2020
Qualified Signal Person and Basic Rigging class, Dover, NH

May 25 – 29, 2020
NCCER operator certification class, Dover, NH
Note: this class is meant for rookies or people who need more classroom prep time. We can also modify it for experienced operators who still need to get certified.

June 22 – 26, 2020
NCCCO operator certification class, Shawmut Equipment, South Easton, MA


For more information or to register, call Anna at 303-817-5663, email anna@newenglandcraneschool.com or visit www.newenglandcraneschool.com

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Glen Road Plaza • 1 Glen Road, Suite 213 • West Lebanon, NH 03784