UPDATED 04/15/11 8:32 a.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) — Education was on Mayor Richard M. Daley’s mind Friday morning as he turned on Buckingham Fountain for the last time before he leaves office.

The mayor was joined by students from Urban Prep Charter Academy for Young Men in the Englewood neighborhood, and the school’s founder and chief executive officer, Tim King, as he activated the historic fountain in Grant Park.

He spoke live to CBS 2 about the school, and how he believes it should be a model for education.

“What a great story to be told – every one of them goes on to college, every one of them have built their character; their confidence, and this is what we have to have in Chicago and America,” Daley said. “I’m not worried about the adults. I’m just worried about the young men and women that should have a good quality education, and think outside the box, and make no exceptions, and said, ‘We can do this, not only here in Chicago, but in America.’”

Urban Prep was founded in 2006, and the first class graduated from the school last year. Most came from economically disadvantaged homes, many with a single parent. But all of them were accepted to college, and most also received scholarships or grants – one worth $342,000.

The mayor’s remarks Friday came a day after the Illinois State Senate passed an education reform bill that focused on many of the changes Mayor Daley championed.

If given final approval, the bill would lengthen school days and school years, and use performance rather than seniority as the factor to determine wages, and to determine whether to fire or lay off teachers.

Also before starting the fountain, Daley said even after he leaves office, his wife, Maggie, will continue to work with the After School Matters Program. The mayor called the program his wife’s “passion.”

I’d like to have every child in an after-school program, and never worry about their safety after school,” Daley said.

WBBM Newsradio 780’s Mary Frances Bragiel reports Daley also talked about Buckingham Fountain itself, and the city’s beauty.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Mary Frances Bragiel reports

“You think about the greatness of Chicago and the future of Chicago. I really believe the Burnham Plan, the policy of open space, the skyline – as I tour the community, it’s like a big puzzle. You put things together and they all start connecting,” Daley said, “and it does connect, and you see people having more confidence about their future.”

The fountain is one of the largest in the world. Each hour at the top of the hour, a major water display is produced for a duration of 20 minutes.

Daley also took full advantage of the CBS 2 News microphone in his hand.

“This is live from Buckingham Fountain, Mayor Richard Daley reporting in to Channel 2,” he said.